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Communications and Public Affairs: 207-7234
Published on Friday, November 16, 2018

Pre-K 4 SA students exceed national thresholds; reap the benefits of high-quality early learning

Contact: Jill Byrd, Creative Noggin | 210.501.4288

Pre-K 4 SA partners with San Antonio Food Bank to provide student lunches and family resources.
Family-style meals, garden-to-table curriculum extends learning throughout day and into homes.

SAN ANTONIO — Pre-K 4 SA students continue to exceed the national norm in kindergarten readiness in cognitive, literacy and mathematics. New results from the Year 5 independent evaluation conducted by Westat, Inc. to study program outcomes provides evidence of lasting effects of high-quality early childhood education.

The Teaching Strategies GOLD Assessment measures cognitive, mathematics, literacy, oral language, physical and social-emotional aspects of early childhood education. Pre-K 4 SA students, for the fifth consecutive year, began the school year significantly below the normed sample in five of six GOLD outcomes. But by the end of the year, Pre-K 4 SA students closed those gaps and demonstrated they were prepared to enter and succeed in elementary school. The gains the Pre-K 4 SA students made surpassed the national comparison group in cognitive, mathematics, and literacy by nearly 20 percent.

“The Board of Directors is pleased to see continued positive growth with each class of Pre-K 4 SA students,” Pre-K 4 SA Board Chair Elaine Mendoza said. “We are confident the results of this evaluation indicate Pre-K 4 SA teaching methods and high-quality instruction are benefiting children.”

The report also includes results of the Pencil Tap test, a direct measure of executive function, the cognitive ability to control thoughts, emotions and actions.

“Executive function is the most important measure of early learning because it is strongly associated with success later in life,” Pre-K 4 SA CEO Sarah Baray said. “Pre-K 4 SA students increased by nearly 20 percent from the fall to spring last year, indicating significant growth in key self-regulatory skills.”

Baray noted that testing of executive function is not a requirement of the state, but the Board of Directors wanted to directly measure this critical component of early learning. Baray referenced a study from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University indicating that when children have opportunities to develop executive function and self-regulation skills, individuals and society experience lifelong benefits.

“This evaluation is important because it indicates that Pre-K 4 SA is producing strong results. Our students made significant gains in all areas,” Baray said. “These results show positive steps in our mission to change the educational and workforce trajectory of San Antonio in one generation.”

In addition to student outcomes, Westat also measured instructional quality. According to the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), Pre-K 4 SA teachers observed during the 2017-18 school year demonstrated instructional quality above the national threshold in all three domains of emotional support, classroom organization and instructional support.

“I am pleased to see our teachers continuing to provide exceptionally high-quality instruction,” Baray said. “Being in a classroom where a teacher meets the research threshold is associated with long-term academic benefits for the children. But, it is not enough to have high quality instruction in Pre-K 4 SA classrooms. We are also working with our colleagues in the school districts to support high-quality instruction in early childhood education classrooms throughout the city. Through our professional learning program, Pre-K 4 SA is providing more than 10,000 hours of coaching and training to more than 2,000 educators each year. This is a critical step to amplify results for our children and our city.”

Categories: PreK4SA