The first kids who enrolled in San Antonio's Pre-K 4 SA program when it began in 2013 are now old enough to take STAAR testing, and a study of the results of those tests by Pre-K veteran third graders shows substantial improvement over classmates who were not enrolled in the program, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
One area where in the improvement is noteworthy is in attendance. Pre-K grads have far better attendance in the third grade, and that resulted in a $23 million gain in state aid to education funding for the city's Independent School Districts in the 2017-2018 school year. State funds are largely distributed on the basis of the number of students in class in a district.
“The initial results of the Pre-K 4 SA Impact Study suggest that the program created a surge of awareness about the value of early childhood education, expanding the number of students enrolled in prekindergarten across San Antonio,” said Dr. Mike Villarreal, Director of the Urban Education Institute at UTSA.
The study shows that third graders who were part of the initial Pre-K 4 SA class also scored higher on third grade reading and math STAAR tests, and also required two thirds less remedial and special education intervention.
“The board is committed to delivering the results our community was promised,” Pre-K 4 SA Board Chair Elaine Mendoza said. “The outcomes of this impact study are encouraging and demonstrate Pre-K 4 SA has long-term positive results for students in San Antonio."
Pre-K for SA is funded with a 1/8 cent sales tax that was approved by San Antonio voters in 2012. Under the terms of that election, the sales tax will have to be renewed by voters in 2020.
"Given the positive effects of public Pre-k found by the study, more students enrolled in public Pre-k means more San Antonio children are prepared to succeed in elementary school and beyond," officials concluded.
A similar study by the independent CityHealth Foundation just two weeks ago discovered similar results, and concluded that San Antonio's Pre-K program is among the top five in the country of 40 urban Pre-K programs studied.
In addition to directly educating four year olds at its four regional centers, Pre-K 4 SA also contributes educators, and expertise to individual public and private schools to establish robust Pre-K programs, and students in those programs were also studied in the UTSA project.