Early Childhood Education | VideoKristin Clouston | 2/19/2013
While some towns have head start programs, there are still many that don`t, so Senator Poolman has sponsored a bill that would help fund PUBLIC early childhood education.
"We really want to start the discussion about expanding early childhood education and celebrating all the things that are occuring in kindergartens and pre-schools across the state," said Senator Nicole Poolman (R) from Bismarck.
For the past five years, Sweetwater Elementary in Devils Lake has followed a group of students who were selected for pre-school because they were living in poverty. Reading assessments taken throughout first, second and third grade show them consistently scoring higher than their classmates. In fact, six out of nine times, 100 percent of the students in the group scored as proficient readers.
"They meet the needs of our most economically disadvantaged students in North Dakota, and to see this kind of results from a focused educationally concentrated pre-school program for our neediest of children demonstrates to us that our investment is worth it," Baesler said.
All day, every day, kindergarten is also fairly new to North Dakota. Once Fargo implemented all day kindergarten, the district had a large reduction of at risk kids.
"Before all day kindergarten, 20 percent of the first grade learners were at risk. After all day kindergarten was implemented that number has been reduced to six percent," Poolman said.
Before Bismarck added all day kindergarten only 55 percent of first graders were ready for school.
"Now we consistently see 85 percent of all first graders ready to be learners," Poolman said.
If the bill passes, it would allow districts to support public pre-school if they have the money. It also has a provision that would allow schools to apply for $100,000 state grants.
There is also a similar house bill, but it doesn`t include state money.