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Pre-K program lowers discipline rates for students’ middle and high school years

Group Of Elementary School Children In Computer Class

New research suggests students who have participated in Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program, a voluntary, public early education program, are about half as likely to have disciplinary problems throughout their school careers than students who didn’t participate in the program. 

The analysis was conducted by the First Class Pre-K Research Evaluation Team, a multi-disciplinary group of researchers that includes faculty and staff from the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, the UAB School of Public Health and the UAB School of Education. 

The Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education provides grant funding for research into the assessment of the First Class Pre-K’s effectiveness.

According to the analysis, students who received First Class Pre-K were about half as likely to have an infraction as those who did not receive First Class Pre-K. 

The research team analyzed data provided by the Alabama State Department of Education which included disciplinary records of over 530,000 infractions for three academic years 2014-2015, 2015-2016 and 2016-2017. 

The analysis found that from the time they entered first grade, former First Class Pre-K students were less likely to be involved in disciplinary violations. The difference in the discipline rates of the First Class Pre-K students compared to other students widened in the upper grades. 

For groups of children who are currently in middle and high school, there are large differences in behavioral infractions, with children who attended First Class Pre-K having fewer behavioral concerns. For children in elementary grades, those receiving First Class Pre-K still had fewer behavioral infractions. 

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Last month, Ivey announced that the Alabama First Class Pre-K program will add 164 new classrooms to 38 counties this fall as 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.


Jessa Reid Bolling is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter and graduate of The University of Alabama with a B.A. in journalism and political science.

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