Heinz Solution

Joe Smydo, writing for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (October 23, 2009), reported on a major study of the effects of pre-kindergarten classes on the early education of poor and developmentally-delayed children vulnerable for special education placement. The study lasted three years and involved 10,000 children. Results indicated a boost in the development of social and academic skills. The children improved in math, literacy and social skills. The study was supported by The Heinz Endowments.

Girl Scouts Marching on Main Street.

Pre-K programs are sometimes dropped by school administrators but the study showed:

1. “Pre-K Counts classes benefited children of various racial and ethnic groups.

2. Classes rated high-quality had more dramatic effects on children than those judged to be of lower quality.

3. Despite poverty and other disadvantages, 80 percent of children in the study demonstrated skills necessary for success in kindergarten — well above what would have been expected without the program.

4. While the participating school districts traditionally placed 18 percent of high-risk children in special-education programs in kindergarten, only about 2 percent of Pre-K Counts children required those services.

5. The children in the study ranged in age from 3 to 6 and attended classes for four to 24 months. Those who spent more time in the classes had larger gains than peers who attended for shorter periods.”

The Heinz study adds weight to the recommendations of IDEA 2004 for early invention. The reduction in special education placements is remarkable. One policy implication is whether local schools have the capacity to shift resources toward early support. IDEA allows flexible funding but pre-kindergarten education is not a traditional school priority.

____________ School Speech Pathology Blog ____________

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