State touts benefits of spending on early education

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The Pennsylvania Department of Education today released a year-end report showing that Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts spent $86.4 million on early learning programs serving nearly 12,000 at-risk children ages 3 and 4 in school districts, Head Start, child care centers and nursery schools in 62 counties in 2009-10.

"Children who have access to quality early learning opportunities can overcome risk factors and succeed in school and in life," said Acting Education Secretary Thomas Gluck. "These children can start school on par with their peers and be less likely to require expensive special education services, providing an immediate savings to our school districts."

The report noted that more than 98 percent of the children showed "age-appropriate or emerging age-appropriate proficiency" in literacy, numeracy and social skills after attending the programs. The children then continued to perform as well as or better than their classmates in kindergarten and first grade, the report said.

About 84 percent of the teachers in Pre-K Counts programs have bachelor's degrees. Two-thirds of the teachers have early childhood education teacher certification.

In a survey of 3,200 parents, 95 percent said the Pre-K counts teachers gave them information on how to help their children's education at home.

Education writer Eleanor Chute: or 412-263-1955.


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