Can't Stop The Feeling!

May 24, 2017


Today, the National Institute for Early Education Research named Alabama First Class Pre-K the highest quality pre-k program in the country for the 11th year in a row. How did Alabama's four-year-olds celebrate? They put on their favorite Justin Timberlake song and danced!

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This announcement was made today by the National Institute for Early Education Research in its 2016 State of Preschool Yearbook. Released every year since 2003, NIEER’s State of Preschool Yearbook is the only national report on state-funded pre-k programs with detailed information on enrollment, funding, teacher qualifications, and other policies related to quality. In this year’s edition, Alabama is one of only six states with a pre-k program that meets or exceed all ten of the benchmarks NIEER measures to determine program quality. Joining Alabama this year are North Carolina, Mississippi, Rhode Island, West Virginia and Louisiana (for one of its three programs).

NIEER announced in this year’s report that this is the last year that they will measure the quality of state pre-k programs through its current set of benchmarks. Next year, NIEER will be introducing major revisions to its research-based quality benchmarks, including requirements for early learning and development standards that are culturally sensitive, supported, and aligned with other state standards and child assessments; supports for curriculum implementation; professional development and coaching for lead and assistant teachers; and a continuous quality improvement system. Alabama and Rhode Island are the only two states that already meet all of the proposed new quality standards.

This year’s State of Preschool Yearbook looks at pre-kindergarten programs operating during the 2015-2016 school year. That year, approximately 11,296 four-year-olds were enrolled in a First Class Pre-K classroom. State leaders have since grown the program to include a total of 14,688 four-year-olds in the current school year, and have agreed to an additional $13 million expansion for next year that, combined with year three of Alabama’s four-year federal Preschool Development Grant, will further increase the size of the program.

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Click here to read more about Alabama's top pre-k quality rating in the 2016 State of Preschool Yearbook.