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:

  1. Comprehensive early learning standards
  2. Lead pre-k teachers have a bachelor's degree
  3. Lead pre-k teachers have specialized early childhood training
  4. Assistant pre-k teachers have a Childcare Development Associate (CDA)
  5. Teachers participate in substantial number of hours of professional development
  6. Maximum class size is 20 or fewer
  7. Staff to child ratio is 1:10 or less
  8. Children receive screening, referral and support services for vision, hearing, dental, health and other support areas
  9. Children are provided meals and/or snacks
  10. Systems hold individual classrooms accountable and monitor to ensure quality standards are being met.