Education

Ga. Early Education Strengths, Weaknesses Cited In Report

A new report shows Georgia's Pre-K program could benefit from developing a continuous evaluation system for staff members.
A new report shows Georgia's Pre-K program could benefit from developing a continuous evaluation system for staff members.
Credit Barnaby Wasson via Flickr / http://www.flickr.com/photos/barnabywasson/279913090/
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A new report from the National Institute of Early Education Research (NIEER) concludes that Georgia does a good job educating the state’s four-year-olds, but there’s room for improvement.

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The annual yearbook gives the state’s pre-kindergarten program high marks for providing access to early education. However, it says Georgia would benefit from developing a system of continuous improvement for staff members.

“Someone is looking at how kids are doing, the quality of teaching based on observation, providing feedback on how to improve, developing plans for how those improvements will be made, for individual teachers and their assistants, for individual districts, and for the entire state, and repeating the process over and over,” said NIEER director Steve Barnett.

Barnett said Georgia’s lottery-funded Pre-K program was hit hard by the recession.

“That hit meant access to good programs was limited, quality standards did not move forward, or even went backwards for a while,” he said. “Teacher pay was cut.”

Some funding has been restored, but Barnett said the program hasn’t fully recovered. He said taking advantage of other resources, like federal grant programs, could help.

The report shows inequality in access to preschool opportunities from state to state. However, the study shows more states than ever (43) are offering publicly funded preschool. Some have even started serving children as young as three years old.