At a time when budget cuts are derailing public pre-kindergarten programs and other districts are trying to figure out how to integrate early learning, the Montgomery County school system in Maryland is touting a model for success they believe can be replicated to help narrow the achievement gap. The report is available on the website for pre [k] Now.
Montgomery County schools has been lauded by the Foundation for Child Development as an example of “a system that has successfully built bridges from prekindergarten through third grade by aligning standards, curricula, instruction, and assessments both within and across the early grades,” according to a U.S. Department of Education blog entry.
The Maryland school district says that creating clear and specific goals, with support from states and the federal government, is a model that all districts can use, and says that as a result:
- Almost 90 percent of kindergarteners [in Montgomery County] entered first grade with essential early literacy skills
- Nearly 88 percent of third graders achieved reading proficiency
- About 90 percent of 12th graders graduated from high school
- 77 percent of graduating seniors enrolled in college
- Achievement gaps between different racial and ethnic groups across all grade levels declined by double digits
What exactly took place in these schools and how did this district accomplish so much? Are parents clamoring to get their children into pre-kindergarten programs there as a result? It would be interesting to speak with parents in the district and find out how satisfied they are with pre-kindergarten in the county, and with the quality of the teachers and the program. It would be even more interesting to compare the offerings with neighboring districts to see how much the outcomes differ.