MORE AT FOUR HELPS LEVEL ACADEMIC PLAYING FIELD FOR
More at Four, North Carolina's state-funded pre-kindergarten for disadvantaged four-year-olds, is making a significant academic difference that extends at least through third grade, according to the latest statewide evaluation of this nationally recognized program.
"Long-term Effects of the North Carolina More at Four Pre-Kindergarten Program: Children's Reading and Math Skills at Third Grade," a statewide evaluation conducted by the FPG Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, showed that More at Four students who were considered economically disadvantaged in third grade in 2006-07 or 2007-08 and who attended More at Four for more than 70 percent of the 2002-03 or 2003-04 school year achieved statistically significant higher scores, on average, than economically-disadvantaged children who did not attend More at Four.
In addition, economically-disadvantaged third graders who attended More at Four narrowed the achievement gap with their non-economically disadvantaged peers by up to 40 percent.
"Every single child in North Carolina deserves a quality education, no matter where he or she lives or what kind of economic background he or she comes from," said Gov. Bev Perdue. "For those children who need extra help, programs such as More at Four and Smart Start are incredible resources, and truly put those kids on the right path to succeeding in school in the future. It's the 'ready' in our Career and College - Ready, Set, Go! initiative, and it's crucial to ensuring all children get the best education possible."
State Superintendent June Atkinson found the report's results empowering and said it reflects what education leaders have been saying all along about the importance of pre-kindergarten programs to at-risk students. "Talk about building a strong, lasting foundation! More at Four is making a difference for students and for our state. It gives our most vulnerable students the ability to compete academically with their peers," Atkinson said. "We know that if a child is at grade level when they leave third grade, his or her chances for graduating from high school nine years later increase substantially."
State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison thanked the Governor and members of the General Assembly for their continued support of More at Four. "We know the state's budget has been incredibly difficult for the past two years and looks to be again this year. Continued funding for More at Four pays dividends in the long run by decreasing costs for academic intervention for these students and the ultimate costs associated with students dropping out," Harrison said.
North Carolina's More at Four pre-kindergarten is a state-funded initiative for at-risk four -year-olds designed to help them to be more successful when they enter elementary school. Its purpose is to provide a high quality, classroom-based educational experience during the year prior to kindergarten entry. More at Four targets at-risk children from low-income families who are not served or underserved in preschool programs. Ninety percent of the children in More at Four have qualified for free or reduced-price lunch. Eligibility for the program is also determined by other risk factors, such as low English proficiency, identified disability, chronic health condition, and/or developmental delay.
The FPG Child Development Institute report follows multiple evaluations of More at Four from 2002-2010. Previous evaluations have focused on:
- the quality of the learning environment;
- the learning gains of children in pre-k; and
- the effects of More at Four on academic growth in kindergarten.
Office of Early Learning Executive Director John Pruette was not surprised by the report's findings. "We know More at Four provides young children with the learning foundation they need to succeed later in school and life. We focus on ensuring our early childhood teachers are well trained. We know that students are receiving high quality instruction in a nurturing environment. The nearly 160,000 students who have attended a More at Four program and their families know first-hand that great things happen when we give children the tools to succeed."
Currently, More at Four is serving almost 31,000 children in a variety of educational settings (public schools, Head Start programs and private child care). The state provides an average per child funding allocation of $5,000.
The full report, "Long-term Effects of the North Carolina More at Four Pre-Kindergarten Program: Children's Reading and Math Skills at Third Grade," is available online at www.fpg.unc.edu/~mafeval/pages/publications.cfm. For more information on this report or More at Four, please contact the NCDPI's Communications division at 919.807.3450.
About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 160 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.
For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.