Deal: Georgia’s Pre-K students make ‘significant gains’ across all areas of learning

December 1, 2016

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced that recent research confirms that students in Georgia’s Pre-K Program continue to exhibit positive outcomes across all areas of learning through the end of kindergarten. Building upon the successes of the 2015 study, research results showed that children made significant gains during their Pre-K year in all areas of learning, including language and literacy skills, math skills, general knowledge and behavioral skills. Student academic growth indicated that they progressed at a greater rate during the time they participated in Georgia’s Pre-K Program than would be expected for normal developmental growth. 
 
“Building a strong foundation for the growth and development of Georgia’s youngest learners has remained a top priority of mine since taking office,” said Deal. “The primary skills these children acquire in effective Pre-K and kindergarten programs put them on track to read at grade level by the third grade, a significant predictor of future academic success. Additionally, teacher retention and abilities are key components to maintaining a quality Pre-K program. For this reason, the Georgia General Assembly invested more than $36 million in the FY 2017 budget to retain and recruit quality Pre-K teachers by increasing salaries to be on par with those of their K-12 peers.”
 
This most recent study is part of a multi-year, comprehensive evaluation commissioned in 2011-2012 by Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) at the request of the Georgia General Assembly. The study began with a sample of 1,169 children who participated in Georgia’s Pre-K Program during the 2013-2014 school year and will continue to track the students through the end of their third grade year in 2018. The research is conducted by the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
 
“These strong findings clearly indicate that Georgia’s signature early education program impacts child academic development and validates the important work accomplished by our teachers and assistant teachers every day,” said DECAL Commissioner Amy M. Jacobs. “On average, children’s skills in language/literacy, math, self-knowledge and general knowledge gained during their Pre-K year were sustained through Kindergarten. These findings confirm that Pre-K provides the strong foundation needed for future learning.”
 
Georgia’s Pre-K Program is available in all 159 counties of the state and approximately 60 percent of Georgia’s four-year-olds are enrolled in the program. More than one-third of Georgia’s counties serve more than 70 percent of all eligible four-year-olds within their respective areas.
 
“This longitudinal research offers an important opportunity to follow a sample of over 1,100 children who attended Georgia’s Pre-K Program through third grade,” said Dr. Ellen Peisner-Feinberg, principal investigator with the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute. “One important distinction of this research is that classroom quality in both Pre-K and kindergarten were taken into account as potential factors affecting children’s growth, with notable similarities in the quality across both years.”   
 
The full report and an executive summary can be found here.    
 
About Bright from the Start
Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning is responsible for meeting the child care and early education needs of Georgia’s children and their families. It administers the nationally recognized Georgia’s Pre-K Program, licenses child care centers and home-based child care, administers Georgia's Childcare and Parent Services (CAPS) program, federal nutrition programs, and manages Quality Rated, Georgia’s community powered child care rating system. The department also houses the Head Start State Collaboration Office, distributes federal funding to enhance the quality and availability of child care, and works collaboratively with Georgia child care resource and referral agencies and organizations throughout the state to enhance early care and education. For more information, visit www.decal.ga.gov.