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Districts revamp pre-K in hopes of closing achievement gaps

May 13, 2016
AccessEconomics and FinanceOutcomesQuality and Curriculum
Melissa B. Taboada
My Statesman

After seeing minimal academic improvement among its youngest learners, the Manor school district is pumping an additional $1.2 million into its prekindergarten program.

Beginning in August, the 4-year-olds enrolled in prekindergarten will get a full day of class, as the district does away with half-day pre-K programs and adds more one-on-one time, more science and more math. The district will end its half-day program for 3-year-olds, hoping that more class time and resources spent on the older children will pay off. A new national study published Thursday concludes that smaller class sizes, high teacher quality, analysis of results and fine-tuning of prekindergarten programs to make them work better — such as the steps Manor is taking — is the kind of quality control that’s not happening nearly enough in Texas.

As school districts across Texas look to prekindergarten as a way to help children from low-income families more quickly catch up to their more affluent peers, the study by the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University has found the state is missing the mark.