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Report: California lagging in preschool quality standards

Craig Clough | May 12, 2015



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preschoolJust as LA Unified is planning big cuts to a preschool program, a new report that says California is lagging behind other states in the quality of its early education programs.

The annual report, The State of Preschool 2014, was prepared by the National Institute for Early Education Research and focuses on 10 quality preschool standards in state-funded programs in 40 states and the District of Columbia (10 states do no fund pre-K programs).

California met four of the 10 standards, making it one of only five states to have met less than 50 percent of the standards. Among the problems cited was not having class sizes limited to 20 or under, not screening children for vision and hearing problems and not requiring teachers to have a bachelor’s degree. Five states met all 10 standards, and 17 met eight or more.

Overall, the report found a wide disparity among states and among districts within states in the level of quality preschool programs.

“It matters even more what zip code you live in,” said Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, according to the San Mateo Daily Journal.

The report did find some overall good news, with funding for preschool and enrollment on the rise in the country.

“State funding for pre-K increased by nearly $120 million in 2013-2014, adjusted for inflation. This is the second year in a row that state pre-K has seen a real funding increase, though programs have yet to fully recover from the impacts of half a billion dollars in cuts in 2011-2012,” the report stated. “Enrollment growth also resumed in 2013-2014, albeit modestly.”

The report comes as early education is being hotly debated around the state and at LA Unified. Just as the California legislature is debating a bill that would guarantee preschool to every low-income child, LAUSD is considering cutting its School Readiness Language Development Program, which provides preschool to 10,000 low-income students.

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