Thursday, April 07, 2011

D.C. charters tackle preschool

It's great to see that DC is providing funding for charter schools like KIPP to expand into the preschool/prekindergarten years.  It's SO critical to reach disadvantaged kids at as young of an age as possible.  Texas also has funding for this and it's incredible to see what KIPP can do when it gets kids at age 5…

Such encounters are part of the new frontier as D.C.'s thriving charter-school movement expands into early childhood programs, where per-pupil funding is higher and, advocates say, early intervention might lead to bigger gains in academic achievement.

LEAP is part of the nonprofit KIPP chain, which started with just one middle school in Houston 15 years ago and now is the largest charter operator in the country. LEAP is among dozens of D.C. charters now offering preschool and pre-kindergarten classes.

"In the first generation of charters, I think most of the charters were middle schools, because a lot of people saw at-risk students in those years," said Jack McCarthy, a charter school veteran who leads the AppleTree Institute, a District-based nonprofit group that began as a charter high school operator in 1996. AppleTree opened its first preschool 10 years ago.

Between 2002 and 2010, the number of children enrolled in District charter preschools and pre-kindergartens jumped tenfold, from 430 to 4,346. At D.C. public schools, by comparison, more than 5,200 children are enrolled in preschool and pre-kindergarten. (In the District, preschool programs generally enroll 3-year-olds and pre-kindergarten programs enroll 4-year-olds.)

"People are starting to realize that you can avoid a lot of the pain" of teaching students who are behind, McCarthy said. "It really dramatically reduces the number of children needing special education if you provide evidence-based interventions in the early years."


D.C. charters tackle preschool


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