Alabama, Huntsville pre-K programs shine - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Alabama, Huntsville pre-K programs shine

School leaders celebrated progress for pre-K programs. School leaders celebrated progress for pre-K programs.

Alabama and Huntsville school leaders celebrated progress for their pre-K programs for preschoolers.

In Huntsville Tuesday night, Huntsville Schools Elementary Director Helen Scott and Pre-K Coordinator Quavis Brown delivered their assessment of the city's program, noting that it has 578 students signed up for more than 60 pre-K classes.

"They're doing really well," said Scott. "What we look at our scores, our kindergartners and our first graders are really doing a very good job. That's what we're looking at. Our accountability department is looking at identifying those children that started out in our first pre-K program. And to see the growth and to see where they are academically as third graders."

The city's update came after news that the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) praised the state's pre-K programs. "Alabama maintains high pre-K standard," said a NIEER release, which noted that Alabama is one of only four states whose pre-K programs meet all the institute's standards.

"If we can give our children a strong foundation in pre-K, all the other programs will just build on themselves," Governor Robert Bentley said. "I feel that there is nothing more important than a good pre-K program. We have the best in the country, we're number one in the United States and that's where we want to stay."

The NIEER did criticize its discovery that only 6% of the state's 4-year-olds were served in the program in the 2012-2013 school year, ranking the state at 34th among those providing pre-K.

Bentley announced, and the NIEER did acknowledge, that since the period covered in the report, the state has sharply increased spending on pre-K programs and added more than 100 new ones statewide.

Brown said the city's pre-K program has already begun to show results. "We see at the beginning where they start with us, by the time that they leave pre-K, it's just a vast improvement," she said.

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