As New School Year Begins, Study Shows Progress in Pre-K 4 SA

Its back to school today for San Antonio's sales tax funded Pre-K 4 SA program, and CEO Sarah Bary says after the Legislature called for high quality early childhood programs in every public school district, San Antonio's program is ready to lead the way, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

"H.B. 3 incentivizes districts to provide full day pre-K and to create high quality programs," she said. "Pre-K 4 SA is a model fo that, and was cited by many of the policy makers and advocates."

Baray cites a study by UTSA's Urban Education Institute, which cites Pre-K 4 SA for producing long time educational outcomes for the first students enrolled in the program, who entered in the 2013-2014 school year.

On average, students enrolled in Pre-K 4 SA’s initial class had stronger STAAR exam scores on third grade reading (+3.8 percentage points) and math (+4.5 percentage points), less need for special education services (decline of 31%), and better attendance (+13.4 days or 2%) than students who did not participate in public prekindergarten.

"Our students have better reading and better math scores than students who did not attend Pre-K 4 SA," Baray said, citing evidence that the advantage of a robust early childhood education program for four years olds pays off in better high school graduation rates, better college performance, and more success on a career path.

The study said Pre-K students also had better attendance in school, which is a major benefit to ISDs, which are paid by the state on the basis of the number of students in the classroom every day.

The study estimates San Antonio public schools received approximately $17.4 million more in funding due to increased attendance of students who enrolled in Pre-K 4 SA ($3.9 million) and the increased public pre-k population that followed the Pre-K 4 SA 2012 election ($13.5 million).

The study also indicates that Pre-K students had less need for special education programs later in school, and provided the biggest benefit to students from low income areas, and to students who were not English-proficient.

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