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Gov. Ivey announces 164 new First Class Pre-K classrooms

Jessa Reid Bolling

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Gov. Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education announced that the Alabama First Class Pre-K program will add 164 new classrooms to 38 counties this fall.

This is the first round of new classroom grants that will be released by the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education. Additional grants will be awarded based on further evaluation of high-needs areas before the commencement of the 2019-2020 school year.

The new classrooms will expand access to the state-funded, voluntary pre-kindergarten program to 21,636 children in the 2019-2020 school year, with more than 1,202 classrooms statewide, moving closer to Ivey’s goal of serving up to 70 percent of eligible four-year-olds.

In addition to funding these new classrooms, this expansion will also include a 4 percent pay raise for teachers.

On Thursday, Ivey signed the Education Trust Fund, the largest investment in education in Alabama to date.

“Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program is truly the model of the nation,” Ivey said. “By adding 164 classrooms, we are ensuring more of our youngest learners are getting a strong start to their educational journeys, which will lead them to an even stronger finish in their careers. Other states across the country want to emulate what we are doing with early childhood education here in Alabama, and much of that is thanks to the tremendous leadership of Secretary Jeana Ross.”

A study by the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education shows that students who attended First Class Pre-K classes were significantly more likely to be proficient in math and reading in grades 3-7 compared to students who did not attend First Class Pre-K classes.

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The results of the study also showed that these long term results were consistent even after controlling for factors that have been shown to influence academic performance, including poverty, gender, race/ethnicity, classroom/school factors and time.

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“Thank you to our state leaders for ensuring that even more children and their families are provided the high quality early learning experiences that will positively impact their educational achievement and future success,” Secretary of Early Childhood Education Jeana Ross said. “We are committed to quality and equity in early childhood education – without compromise.”

 

Jessa Reid Bolling is a reporting intern at the Alabama Political Reporter and graduate of The University of Alabama with a B.A. in journalism and political science. You can email her at [email protected] or reach her via Twitter.

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