North Carolina's state-funded pre-K program for 4-year-olds has produced better-than-expected positive outcomes for participants, new research says.
Significant gains were seen across all areas of learning including language and literacy skills, math skills, general knowledge, and social skills, states the report entitled "2012-2013 Children's Outcomes and Program Quality in the North Carolina Pre-K Program," released earlier this month.
"Children are progressing at an even greater rate during their participation in NC Pre-K than expected for normal developmental growth," said Senior Scientist Ellen Peisner-Feinberg, who leads the research team at the University of North Carolina's Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute that evaluated the program.
In addition, preschoolers with lower levels of English proficiency made greater gains on standardized tests than their peers for some skills, suggesting that the program is especially beneficial for such children, the report states.
Moreover, the study says that there has been a steady improvement in preschool teachers' education and credentials over the past decade or so, with a higher proportion of teachers now holding bachelor's degrees and the appropriate licenses.
Last year, some 32,000 low-income children were served in 2,150 classrooms located in more than 1,200 sites, the report states.
Since the program's inception as "More at Four" in 2001, it has served more than 255,000 4-year-olds.