New York’s Pre-K Offers Early Learning Model

While one can find many things about any large city to love or hate, the New York Times reports on an area where New York City is finding success: Its pre-K program

While there’s much about any large city to love or hate, the New York Times reports on an area where New York City is finding success: Its pre-K program.

According to a national evaluation system, the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale, “about 94 percent of the city’s prekindergarten programs met or exceeded a threshold that predicts positive student outcomes after pre-K.”

For more on the importance of maintaining education investment from pre-K through high school, listen to our podcast with Northwestern Professor Kirabo Jackson on the Economics of Education Investment.

Among the NYT highlights:

  • “A well-placed, orderly sandbox. Teachers who laugh often. Plenty of miniature tables and chairs.Those are markers of an excellent pre-K classroom. And New York City, home to the largest citywide prekindergarten initiative in the country, has these features — and many more — in the vast majority of its programs, according to new data shared with The New York Times.”
  • “This means that as Mayor Bill de Blasio’s signature initiative — public pre-K for all 4-year-olds in New York City — gets bigger, it is also improving.”
  • “The new data represents a big jump from the first time the system was evaluated in 2015, when just 77 percent of the programs were found to be up to par. So it is not just that existing programs are improving; many of the new pre-Ks joining the initiative are already high quality.”

Key Tips for Practitioners

Some of the areas where the NYC pre-K classrooms excelled are areas where practitioners should focus. According to the NYT:

  • “When city inspectors enter pre-K classrooms, they are looking for things a parent who simply sees a room of exuberant toddlers might miss.”
  • “There should be a clear nap schedule, students who know how to wash their hands by themselves and lots of opportunities for children to talk. There should be few instances when the whole class is gathered together on the rug, and instead children should be playing in small groups.”
  • “And when children misbehave, the teacher should not yell or berate them. Instead, teachers should tell students what they did wrong and what they should do better next time.”

Pre-K Program Growth

Because of the success, now the program is growing. According to the report “Free Preschool, Coming to an Apartment Near You What Family Child Care Could Mean for 3K,” from The Center for New York City Affairs at The New School: “In a move that has surprised some in the early education eld, the country’s largest public school system revealed in a white paper on early childhood education published last month that it is planning to make ‘family child care,’ as it’s known in the field, a part of New York City’s ‘3K-for-All’ program. Modeled on New York City’s successful Pre-K-for-All program for 4-year-olds, 3K provides free preschool to 3-year-olds and was Mayor Bill de Blasio’s signature promise during his 2017 re-election campaign.”

“Unlike the massive, high-speed launch of pre-K, the City is rolling out 3K more slowly, adding a few community school districts each year through 2021-2022, focusing first on areas with high concentrations of poverty. So far, the 3K program has rolled out in six of the city’s 32 school districts, serving about 5,000 kids in schools and child care centers. It aims to serve over 19,000 3-year-olds in 12 school districts during the 2020-2021 school year. It is in districts where elementary schools are overcrowded and child care centers scarce that the City is most likely to turn to licensed group family daycares for 3K classes.”

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