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Washington’s preschool program praised as one of the best in national report

June 30, 2016
AccessEconomics and FinanceGovernance and AccountabilityQuality and CurriculumState & Local
John Higgins
The Seattle Times

A new national report explains how Washington and three other states have built high-quality early-education systems.

A new national report holds up Washington state’s 31-year-old preschool program for low-income families as one of the best in the country, weathering good economic times and bad without sacrificing quality. It points to recent studies that have shown that the percentage of kids ready for kindergarten after attending Washington’s program exceeds the state average and that the students’ improvement in reading and math persists through fifth grade. . .

But money isn’t the only hurdle. Doubling enrollment in the preschool program will require 640 new classrooms and as many new teachers, according to the report. The state is short on preschool teachers because many are moving to K-12 schools, as those schools hire more staff to provide a full day of kindergarten and reduce class sizes in grades K-3, which also has been required by lawmakers. The state hopes that it can create incentives for more child-care providers to get the training they need to teach in the preschool program.