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Governor Bullock Highlights Success of First-Ever Publicly Funded Preschool in Montana

93% of kids kindergarten ready at end of first year of pilot program

Thursday, October 25, 2018/Categories: Governor's Office/Tags:

Governor Steve Bullock is highlighting a recently released evaluation report that showcases data from the first year of the STARS preschool pilot program and encourages continued state investment in high-quality preschool opportunities for Montana families.

“As a father and as governor, I want to make sure that every child has every opportunity to succeed. This report shows that children in publicly funded preschool classrooms are not only ready for kindergarten, they are receiving a foundation that will better prepare them for success for the rest of their lives,” said Governor Bullock. “I encourage every state legislator to visit a STARS preschool classroom and see first-hand the difference it’s making for our kiddos, for our communities both urban and rural, and for our economy that’s depending on the workforce of tomorrow.”

Highlights from the report include:

  • Assessment data shows that all children enrolled in STARS Preschool benefitted academically, with a 21% overall increase in school readiness and with 93% of participants ready for kindergarten at the end of the year.
  • In a year-end survey of classroom teachers, 94% reported they were given effective opportunities to grow professionally.
  • On average, 97% of family survey respondents felt engaged with the STARS preschool classroom and their child’s education.
  • STARS preschool served a diversity of participants, in very rural communities and more urban settings, with a range of classroom sizes and program types. In year one, 61% of children identified in one or more high needs category.
  • The average child-teacher ratio in the classroom was 1:7.
  • Programs report the implementation of curriculum has improved their teaching practices and 86% of teachers reported feeling that child outcomes have improved because of curriculum use.

The report also showcases opportunities for continued focus to further education and the demand in both rural and urban communities across Montana for more high-quality, affordable preschool options. Nearly half of the 50 applicants for STARS preschool noted that there were no other options for preschool in their community.

Additionally, the report recommends continued state investment in high-quality preschool in order to expand access and increase school readiness.

Governor Bullock worked with the 2017 Montana Legislature to secure the state’s first-ever investment in publicly funded, high-quality early childhood education. HB 639 passed with bipartisan support and directs $6 million over two years to implement the STARS preschool pilot program. Until last year, Montana was one of only six states that had not invested state funds for public preschool.

Governor Bullock will be asking the 2019 Montana Legislature to again secure funding for publicly funded, high-quality early childhood education.

The 2018 STARS Preschool Evaluation Report can be found at this link.

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