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ERIC Number: ED519893
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2004-Mar
Pages: 12
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: N/A
Preschool in Early Childhood Program Aid Districts: Progress Made, Challenges Remain
McLaughlin, Jill
Association for Children of New Jersey
Seven years after the state began funding preschool programs in 102 low-income New Jersey districts; two-thirds of eligible 4-year-olds are enrolled in these programs, according to a survey conducted by the Association for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ). Preschool enrollment in these districts has steadily increased, jumping nearly 10 percent in school-based programs from the 2001-2002 to the 2002-2003 school years. Still, one-third of eligible children are missing this valuable early education. Research shows that high-quality preschool narrows the early achievement gap for lower income children, increases high school graduation rates and decreases crime rates. The ACNJ survey also found that only 16.4 percent of the 67 districts responding to the survey used comprehensive, nationally-recognized curriculums. The remainder of the respondents used curriculum developed, at least in part, by district staff. This could be a potential problem as most of these staff members--82 percent do not have backgrounds in early childhood education. In addition, the 67 districts reported spending an average of 36 percent of the $74.2 million received in state early education dollars for preschool for 4-year-olds. It's unclear how districts are using the balance of the funds. The 1996 Comprehensive Education Improvement Financing Act (CEIFA), which created the Early Childhood Program Aid (ECPA), allowed districts to also use these funds for kindergarten as well as for early childhood programs and services in grades one through three. State funding of early childhood programs has improved educational opportunities for young children. The ability to provide full-day kindergarten and preschool programs for 4-year-olds is giving many children the foundation they need for later school success. There are, however, implementation issues identified in this study that need to be addressed to assure that these programs are of high quality. This includes providing adequate classroom space, ensuring high quality programming and making class size standard throughout these districts. The identification of these issues is timely following the announcement of Governor McGreevey expansion program, The Early Launch to Learning Initiative. Districts that will be a part of expansion may face many of the same issues and can learn from the experiences of these ECPA programs. Appended are: (1) Identified Benefits; and (2) Identified Challenges. (Contains 2 tables and 11 endnotes.)
Association for Children of New Jersey. 35 Halsey Street, Newark, NJ 07102. Tel: 973-643-3876; Fax: 973-643-9153; Web site: http://www.acnj.org
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Early Childhood Education; Preschool Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Association for Children of New Jersey
Identifiers - Location: New Jersey