Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Early Education Classes Receiving High Marks

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Early Education Classes Receiving High Marks

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- The first report on a long-term study of Georgia's

nationally recognized pre-kindergarten program suggests it is

getting parents more involved in their children's education.

A majority of about 2,000 parents surveyed in the study said

they were volunteering to help in their child's school and

spending more time with their 4-year-olds.

The study, which began last year and will continue for the

next 11 years, showed parents and teachers in public school

pre-kindergarten classes are more satisfied than their

counterparts in private pre-k programs, where employees often

are lower paid and fewer are fully trained in their curriculum.

Overall, researchers found support among parents and educators

for the lottery-funded program, which is enrolling 60,000

4-year-olds this year at a cost of $211 million.

"The majority of parents are very well-satisfied with the

pre-kindergarten program, and hteachers are well-satisfied both

with their environment and with the children who are attending

pre-kindergarten," said Gary T. Henry, who heads the Georgia

Council for School Performance and Georgia State University's

Applied Research Center, which is performing the study.

The state began piloting pre-kindergarten in the 1992-93 school

year, before the lottery began.

It has grown from a small program for kids from poor families

to a highly popular head start available to virtually all

families. Critics have characterized it as state-sponsored

baby-sitting.

Early-childhood researchers at Georgia State University found

the inaugural class of low-income students in the program got an

initial boost but some of the gains might have faded over time.

As part of Henry's study, researchers will follow almost 4,200

children from all parts of the state to determine the program's

effect over 12 years.

Part of the reason is to find out if there is a single

curriculum or method most successful for students over the long

term.

"We don't have the one way that works best for 4-year-olds yet. …

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