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Alabama's First Class Pre-K leads the nation in quality for 18th consecutive year

On Wednesday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) and the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education (ADECE) announced that Alabama's First Class Pre-K program is once again recognized for the highest quality in the country.

This is according to the national report, The 2023 State of Preschool. Alabama is one of only five states in the country to meet all 10 of the 10 research-based quality standard benchmarks for 2023. Alabama and is the only state in the nation to have achieved this distinction for 18 consecutive years.

"Alabama's First Class Pre-K program continues to show its effectiveness in giving our youngest learners a strong start in both school and life," said Governor Ivey. "Alabama has established itself as a national leader in early childhood education and has set a standard of excellence by making significant investments in pre-k."

Jan Hume is the Acting Secretary of the Department of Early Childhood Education.

"This recognition from NIEER reflects the dedication and hard work of our staff and partners who support high-quality learning experiences for our state's 4-year-old children," said Hume. "We are honored by this recognition and recognize that we must continue the work to improve and expand quality early learning to support children and families across our state."

The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) tracks preschool enrollment, funding and quality across states. The 2023 State of Preschool Yearbook finds Alabama is one of only five states in the country to meet all 10 of their 10 research-based quality benchmarks making it one of the highest quality pre-kindergarten programs in the nation.

The state has continued to pour more and more money into early childhood education.

"In this year's education budget, I have requested funding to continue providing access to this program while also waving tuition and fee costs to parents," said Governor Ivey. "We can all be proud that Alabama leads the nation in ensuring high quality while expanding program access to Alabama's 4-year-olds."

Alabama First Class Pre-K offers 4-year-olds access to prekindergarten programs in their communities. It currently serves more than 24,000 children across all 67 counties in the state. The Department claims that research on the program's long-term impacts shows that children who participated in First Class Pre-K are more likely to be successful throughout their school careers across multiple domains of learning than children who were not enrolled in four year old prekindergarten programs.

Registration for the 2024-2025 school year is now open. Visit, children.alabama,gov to register a child for Alabama First Class Pre-K.

Not all the children in the state have access to pre-K as more children apply than are accepted. Governor Ivey is requesting that the Legislature include more money for Pre-K classrooms in her 2025 education budget request. The version of the budget that passed out of the Alabama House of Representatives last week has that additional funding.

Gov. Ivey hopes that expanding the number of Pre-K classrooms will eventually help translate into better test scores for children in the 4th and 8th grades on standardized assessments, better scores for high school students on the ACT, more students leaving high school college or career ready, and more high school graduates eventually entering the workforce. Those other numbers have all been trailing the nation for years.


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