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Arkansas Better Chance Program Meets Nine out of Ten Quality Standard Benchmarks


November 7, 2006

New Brunswick, NJ – Arkansas' state-funded preschool program meets nine quality standard benchmarks, rather than the 10 it was originally given credit for when The State of Preschool: 2005 State Preschool Yearbook was issued by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) in March 2006. NIEER's yearbook annually evaluates the nation's state funded preschool programs on access, quality standards and resources. The 2005 yearbook evaluated state preschool programs for the 2004-05 school year. Arkansas was incorrectly cited in the yearbook as having been the only state in the nation to meet all ten quality standard benchmarks. State preschool initiatives in five other states meet nine of the benchmarks meaning that Arkansas is now tied for meeting the highest number of benchmarks with Alabama, Illinois, New Jersey "Abbott" Preschools, North Carolina, and Tennessee. NIEER staff recently learned that Arkansas does not require bachelor degree teachers in every classroom, which drops the number of benchmarks met by Arkansas to nine of 10. Information obtained from Arkansas mistakenly indicated it did meet the teacher degree benchmark in 2004-05. Of the preschool teachers in the ABC program, 72 percent hold a bachelor's degree or higher. Teacher education is predictive of better teaching and NIEER encourages Arkansas and other states to ensure that all pre-K teachers are well educated. "While NIEER depends on states to provide information to our yearbook survey, NIEER bears responsibility for verifying the accuracy of key data," said W. Steven Barnett, NIEER Director. "Since this error was discovered, NIEER has implemented an improved formal system of reviewing each state's regulations to further reduce the likelihood of data inaccuracies." The 10 quality standards benchmarks are: 1) comprehensive learning standards; 2) teachers with a bachelor degree; 3) teachers with specialized training in early childhood; 4) assistant teachers with an Child Development Associate credential or the equivalent; 5) teacher in-service training of at least 15 hours per year; 6) maximum class sizes of 20 or less; 7) staff to child ratios of 1 to 10 or better; 8)vision, hearing and health screening and referral and support services; 9) at least one meal per day provided; and 10) site visits. ### The National Institute for Early Education Research (www.nieer.org), a unit of the Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, supports early childhood education policy by providing objective, nonpartisan information based on research. NIEER is supported through grants from The Pew Charitable Trusts and others.