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News Release - Report: Colorado Preschool Program producing positive outcomes for at-risk children

Jan. 19, 2017

Report: Colorado Preschool Program producing positive outcomes for at-risk children

Colorado Preschool Program’s annual report shows graduates from the program fare better on future statewide measures than other at-risk peers

DENVER - The annual report of the Colorado Preschool Program shows a boost in state funding in 2013 and 2014 led to more children being able to access high quality early childhood education programs with trained instructors and better outcomes on statewide measures than at-risk children who did not participate in the program.

The Colorado Preschool Program is a state-funded early childhood education program administered by the Colorado Department of Education that focuses on at-risk children who are likely to start elementary school unprepared for academic success.

The annual report that was recently delivered to the legislature shows that increased funding under the Early Childhood At-Risk Enhancement (ECARE) program allowed for 8,200 more children to become eligible for half- or full-day preschool or full-day kindergarten classes under the program.

“The education and care of our youngest learners is a priority for the Colorado Department of Education,” said Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes. “Building the education foundation early in life is essential to helping children succeed later in life. That is why the Colorado Preschool Program plays such a critical role in our collective mission to increase academic achievement for all students and, ultimately, ensure that all students graduate high school ready for college or career.”

The report shows the Colorado Preschool Program’s success has been associated with measurable results, including impressive developmental growth among participants and better literacy rates for children in the program than their at-risk peers who did not participate in CPP.

The program now serves about 20,000 children enrolled in half-day preschool, more than 1,400 children in full-day preschool and about 5,400 children in full-day kindergarten programs. Nevertheless, it is estimated that nearly 8,400 at-risk children in Colorado still had no opportunity to attend preschool in 2015-16 through CPP or Head Start. Despite the legislature’s funding increases that raised per-pupil spending to $3,748 in 2014-15, that figure is still below the $4,521 national average.

 Other key findings in the report:

  • CPP graduates are more likely to meet or exceed expectations in most subject areas on statewide Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) assessments, compared to their at-risk peers who did not attend publicly funded preschool.
  •  In 2015-16, about 50 school districts had at least one CPP-funded program rated between a 3 and a 5 (on a 1-5 scale) on the Colorado Shines quality rating system.
  • CPP graduates are less likely to be held back in grades K-3 compared to similar at-risk children who did not attend publicly funded preschool. While high-quality preschool requires a significant up-front investment, it is often less costly than retaining students. Retention costs an extra year’s worth of per-pupil spending as Colorado taxpayers pay for remediation.

Read the executive summary of the legislative report here. (PDF)