RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The results of an independent evaluation show students enrolled early education programs funded by a state grant initiative are achieving student performance outcomes meeting or exceeding typical outcomes for children of the same age and are equivalent to outcomes from Virginia Preschool Initiative, or VPI, classrooms.
Governor Ralph Northam announced the results of the evaluation, demonstrating state investment in mixed delivery approach are increasing access to early education programs and improving outcomes for at-risk children.
According to a release, the evaluation was looking at programs funded by the Virginia Mixed-Delivery Preschool Grant initiative.
“The positive outcomes detailed in this evaluation make clear that mixed delivery models have tremendous benefits and offer high-quality, affordable early childhood education options for Virginia children and families, especially those who are most vulnerable,” said Northam. “As a Commonwealth, we can make no better investment than providing our youngest Virginians with skills they need to enter kindergarten ready for success. These pilot programs represent important opportunities to expand access to critical early learning programs with innovative community-based partnerships.”
The release says the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation administers the Mixed-Delivery Preschool Fund Program along with the Virginia Department of Education.
Through the initiative, local communities are awarded grants to test innovative strategies to increase the number o publicly funded pre-K slots in private care centers.
“Recognizing the potential of partnership among schools and private child care programs will help Virginia maximize the reach of quality school readiness services for at-risk children in Virginia,” said state Senator Emmett Hanger, the co-chair of the Joint Subcommittee on VPI. “Mixed delivery programs help ensure vibrant preschool programs are more accessible in rural and urban settings.”
Such models offer publicly funded services in public schools and private care centers, which can provide families with year-round care and flexible hours responsive to the needs of the family.
The release says this flexibility helps reach the most at-risk children by reducing barriers in transportation, scheduling and cost.
The report has several key findings, including children in mixed delivery classrooms achieved outcomes comparable to those of students in VPI classrooms in language, literacy, math and self-regulation.
It also found the majority of children in both types of classrooms achieved outcomes meeting or exceeding outcomes typical for their age group in language, literacy and math.
The report says teacher credentials varied across the types of classrooms, but children still achieved similar outcomes.
Finally, it said mixed delivery communities produced essential systems-level changes, such as improved quality in mixed delivery classrooms and improvements in public-private collaborations needed to support the expansion of mixed delivery programs.
Northam signed an executive order in July that created the Executive Leadership Team on School Readiness to make recommendations to unify and strengthen Virginia's early childhood system, including developing a plan to expand access to early education for all at-risk three- and four-year-olds by 2023.
To read the full report, click on the link in the Related Links box.