August 24, 2007

Rating PreK Programs on Kindergarten Results

In Texas, the new School Readiness Certification System rates preschools, Head Start programs, and daycare centers on how well they prepare students for kindergarten, making them the first state to do so. "We are the only state in the nation that now links the certification or rating of an early childhood classroom to what's happening in that classroom and how it predicts kindergarten readiness," said Susan Landry, director of the Texas State Center for Early Childhood Development, the organization charged by state law to develop the certification system. The system tracks children from preschool to kindergarten and uses scores on reading and social skills tests given in kindergarten to determine whether students were properly prepared by the pre-k classrooms they were in the year before. A pre-k classroom passes if 80-percent of students pass the tests.

The system is currently voluntary, which worries critics who feel the system does not hold all programs accountable. The early childhood programs that are found to not prepare students will not face any penalties.