Fresno County Uses Pre-K to Turn Schools Around
The national advocacy group Pre-K Now, an arm of the Pew Center on the States, recently released a report highlighting five examples nationally of districts and regions where pre-K has been used to turn around low-performing districts.
One of the examples is Fresno County, California, where 2010 Census data says half the population is Latino. Four years ago, 34 school districts came together under the leadership of county Superintendent Larry Powell to create a Voluntary Preschool Master Plan. The plan expands access to pre-K for four-year-olds, using a curriculum aligned with kindergarten and starting with communities with low-performing elementary schools and a shortage of pre-K programs.
Fresno also is implementing a local Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) to foster strong teaching in its pre-K classrooms. QRIS efforts are on the upswing nationally: 19 states already have systems to rate the quality of early learning and care. California’s system is in the planning stages, and state leaders will be looking to local efforts as they design what the statewide QRIS will look like.
Pre-K Now’s report doesn’t tell us where things stand today in Fresno, so I’m asking you, readers. If any of you are reporters covering Fresno’s schools, have you seen this pre-K initiative making an impact? If you’ve written about it, please send us links. I e-mailed a reporter this week saying I hope this blog can become a place for EWA members to showcase their reporting on the education of Latino students. Let’s start now.