Georgia Pre-K students are learning early, and sustaining that knowledge.
That's the finding of a new study.
The report comes as part of a multi-year evaluation of Georgia's Pre-K Program. It's being conducted by the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
"These findings clearly indicate that Georgia's signature early education program impacts children's academic development years after they participate in the program," said Amy M. Jacobs, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, or DECAL. "The findings validate the important work accomplished by our teachers and assistant teachers every day and confirm that Pre-K provides the strong foundation needed for future learning."
The study is longitudinal, meaning it is following a group of students as they move through the school system.
It found that early learners made, and kept gains in areas like language, literacy, math and general knowledge, which can include social skills.
"We need to make sure that our kids have strong skills in knowing how to work in a group, how to ask for the things they need, what to do when things don't go my way, those skills are just as important and even more important in children doing well in school."
DECAL commissioned the study in 2011 at the request of the Georgia General Assembly. It started with a sample of 1,169 children who participated in Georgia's Pre-K Program during the 2013-2014 school year and will follow them through their third grade year in 2017-2018.
The results from that third grade year will be released later after the year's completion.
"I think families, but also all the citizens of Georgia, can really take away that Georgia's Pre-K program is a good investment of our state dollars. It makes a difference for all of our kids, and it really sets a foundation that's gonna help our kids be successful."
Georgia's Pre-K program, funded by the Georgia lottery, is celebrating its 25th year. It is available in all of the state's 159 counties, with about 60 percent of four-year-olds in the state being served.