What is High-Quality Pre-K
Since ninety percent of brain development occurs during a child's first five years of life, early childhood experiences establish either a sturdy or a fragile foundation for everything that follows. High-quality, voluntary pre-kindergarten (pre-k) for four-year-olds is an effective early childhood education program that prepares children to succeed socially, emotionally and academically in kindergarten and beyond.
Alabama's state funded pre-k program, First Class, has been recognized by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) for twelve years in a row for meeting all 10 of the Institute's research-based benchmarks for quality. NIEER's Quality Standards Checklist represents a set of minimum policies needed to ensure the effectiveness of preschool education programs in preparing children for success in kindergarten and beyond.
NIEER Quality Standards Checklist:
- Comprehensive early learning standards
- Lead pre-k teachers have a bachelor's degree
- Lead pre-k teachers have specialized early childhood training
- Assistant pre-k teachers have a Childcare Development Associate (CDA)
- Teachers participate in substantial number of hours of professional development
- Maximum class size is 20 or fewer
- Staff to child ratio is 1:10 or less
- Children receive screening, referral and support services for vision, hearing, dental, health and other support areas
- Children are provided meals and/or snacks
- Systems hold individual classrooms accountable and monitor to ensure quality standards are being met.