Education Gadfly is open to a nationwide pre-kindergarten program, but thinks Sen. Hillary Clinton’s proposal ignores accountability.
Clinton announced her universal pre-K idea in Florida, praising the state’s program. Gadfly notes Florida measures whether preschools really are preparing children for school. Kindergarteners take “a simple kindergarten ‘readiness’ test, which measures a student’s ability to identify letters, their fluency with the beginning sounds of a word, etc.” results for pre-K progams are posted online, so parents can evalute which do a good job of preparing students.
Pre-school providers whose wee students repeatedly do poorly on simple readiness tests when they arrive in kindergarten will have to improve their scores or be dropped from the state’s program.
It’s unlikely that Clinton would support such an accountability system for her pre-K plan, though. Why? Because she’s already opposed a nearly identical accountability system for Head Start, the $7 billion federal program originally designed to promote school readiness.
I like Education Sector’s pre-k plan, which focuses on preparing children from poor and moderate-income families for school. EdSector estimates it would cost $18.4 billion annually to provide school-quality pre-K to 56 percent of the nationâ€™s 4-year-olds. Clinton’s plan estimates $20 billion — half federal, half state — would fund pre-K for all 4-year-olds (with middle-class families paying a portion of the cost).