The importance of Pre-K: Don’t let it fadeout

Published 6:30 pm Friday, June 7, 2019

Coming from a family who have been educators for many years and being an education reporter, it is not surprising to see the benefits of a Pre-K program over the years.

Every school system I have covered has a Pre-K program offered, and the benefits for it lean more towards preparing young students for their long educational journey that lies ahead of them.

As the Selma City School’s First Class Early Learning Program prepares to relocate to Sophia P. Kingston Elementary, there is still time to register for the next school year.

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Kenneth A. Dodge a Pritzker Professor of Public Policy at Duke University had an article published on the National Institute for Early Education Research that talked about the term fadeout, which is a term that describes findings from a Tennessee study of the effects of that state’s pre-kindergarten program on children’s later development.

According to Dodge, children who participated in Tennessee’s program demonstrated gains in cognitive skills by the end of the program that were followed by sharp declines when these children entered elementary school.

“Skeptics want to use those ‘fadeout’ findings to fade out state funding for North Carolina’s pre-kindergarten program, called NC Pre-K,” Dodge wrote.

Dodge also writes results were the exact opposite when documenting the experiences of children in North Carolina.

“Our new analyses … show that the positive impacts of NC Pre-K and Smart Start continue through grades sixth, seventh and eighth,” Dodge wrote. “There is no fadeout. In fact, the impact grows. By eighth-grade … we find positive impacts for every group of children we studied.”

In Alabama, the Alabama School Readiness Alliance (ASRA), a statewide, nonprofit coalition advocating for the expansion of high-quality, voluntary Pre-K, released a fact sheet about the importance of a high-quality Pre-K program in Alabama.

“Students who attended the First Class Pre-K program in Alabama are more likely to be proficient in reading and math compared to other students — and this academic advantage persists over time,” according to the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama. “This is the key finding of an ongoing study of Alabama First Class Pre-K conducted by researchers from the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, the UAB School of Public Health and the UAB School of Education. This research was funded by the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education. The early years of school through the third-grade are a critical time in a child’s brain development. These early years provide a window for developing a foundation for sustained success. Problems that emerge during the early years are more difficult to address later on. High-quality pre-k programs provide opportunities to address gaps in early child development and to improve school readiness.”

Selma City School Superintendent Dr. Avis Williams still encourages enrollment in the First Class program.

These programs are a way to get a jump start on children’s education.

It is important to not let these programs fade out.