Kindergarten Teachers Survey Backs Research Showing Social-Emotional Benefits of High-Quality Pre-K
Report Highlights Unmet Need and Makes Case for Funding Increases for
High-Quality Pre-K in the 2019-20 State Budget
Harrisburg, PA (May 28, 2019)—The Pre-K for PA Campaign today released Ready to Succeed: Kindergarten Teachers Support Investments in High-Quality Pre-k, a report based on findings of a survey conducted with campaign partner the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), seeking the perceptions of kindergarten members about the role that access to high-quality, publicly funded pre-k plays in school readiness.
PSEA Treasurer Jeff Ney says the results show resounding support for high-quality pre-k among those surveyed, with 96 percent of elementary school teachers agreeing that students who attend a high-quality pre-k program are ready for success in kindergarten, and 98 percent agreeing that high-quality, publicly funded pre-k is an important tool for preparing at-risk children for kindergarten.
“Phrasing quality pre-k as ‘an important tool’ was intentional in this survey,” Ney said. “Kindergarten teachers know and understand that a quality pre-k experience provides each child entering kindergarten with a growth mindset and a readiness to succeed. Their personal experiences mirror what researchers have uncovered – that children who attend high-quality pre-k have a solid foundation for learning, which promotes increased student growth and achievement.”
Research shows that access to high-quality, publicly funded pre-k benefits children socially and emotionally, helps cognitive development through physical activity, promotes healthy brain development through positive interactions and helps them develop early literacy skills.
Responses from the kindergarten teachers surveyed support this research. The top three skills kindergarten teachers found to be most important for early learning programs to focus on to ensure incoming students are ready for a successful kindergarten year were physical well-being and motor development, emotional development and social development.
Miranda Clash, a kindergarten teacher at Hamilton Elementary School in the Carlisle Area School District in Cumberland County who took the survey, said, “Students who attend high-quality pre-k programs come into kindergarten ready to succeed. They have already practiced essential learning behaviors, know how to regulate their emotions, interact appropriately with peers, and have a solid foundation of language and background knowledge onto which they can add new learning. For students who have had a high-quality pre-k experience, I don’t have to spend as much time teaching these prerequisites to academic learning.”
Kari King, President and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, a founding member of the Pre-K for PA Campaign, said that while it’s no surprise that kindergarten teachers support programs that help students succeed in their classrooms, their collective voice is important.
“Almost immediately, kindergarten teachers can determine the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ in their classrooms – or those children who have had access to high-quality pre-k and those who have not,” she said. “Investments in high-quality pre-k have a significant return on investment for our children, schools and communities. However, the state is not investing enough to ensure access for the children who need it the most.”
More than 97,000 – or 56 percent – of eligible 3- and 4-year-olds do not have access. The Pre-K for PA Campaign is calling for a $50 million increase in the 2019-20 state budget; $40 million for Pre-K Counts and $10 million for the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program (HSSAP). This investment will provide access to an additional 5,500 children.
The report notes that the Commonwealth still ranks 18th of the 30 states investing in high-quality pre-k, and aggressive steps must be taken to put Pennsylvania children on a level playing field with their peers in those states.
Ready to Succeed: Kindergarten Teachers Support Investments in High-Quality Pre-k is available at https://www.prekforpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/PPC-Pre-K-Report-Online.pdf.
Pre-K for PA is an issue campaign supported by individuals and organizations across Pennsylvania who believe that investing in our children is the right choice and an urgent necessity. Our vision is that every 3- and 4-year-old in Pennsylvania will have access to high-quality pre-k. We will not endorse nor oppose candidates, but rather we will advocate on behalf of this vision for Pennsylvania’s children, schools and communities. For more information www.prekforpa.org.