Cleveland, one of the more recent cities to get into the prekinderten game, released its first report on its new quality improvement program on Dec. 15. And though the report is not an effectiveness study, it does indicate that Cleveland’s model—called Pre4Cle—is another one that’s worth watching.
Unlike some city programs, Pre4Cle works directly with existing preschools and it is not focused on free tuition for every child. The organization’s staff (it’s a public-private partnership) has raised money to increase enrollment through tuition assistance for families and business-side investments for partners.
Quality rating is a big part of the program, and Pre4Cle only works with programs it considers to be of high quality. Starting last year, Ohio state’s new rating system kicked in, and all the Pre4Cle programs that were rated counted as “high quality,” though that could mean a rating of three, four or five stars.
In 2014-15, the program’s first year, Pre4Cle schools enrolled 4,080 children,* ages 3 to 5. That was a 10 percent gain over the citywide enrollment in 2013-14. Still, the report says there are 12,400 preschool-aged children in the city and that 67 percent of them are not yet enrolled in a high-quality preschool program.
Children in the program were assessed by outside consultants using the Bracken School Readiness exam in the fall and spring. Thirty-one percent of children made meaningful improvement in three areas of the exam over the course of the school year, and 57 percent showed such progress in two categories. Eighty percent of children tested in the “average,” “advanced,” or “very advanced,” categories, indicating that they are ready to start kindergarten.
It will be interesting to watch the progress Pre4Cle makes during its second year of expansion and to see if it can improve school readiness numbers through efforts to improve quality. I’m not aware of a long-term study having been launched to look at the effects of Pre4Cle on students as they progress through their school years, but I’ll be keeping my eyes open for outside evaluations of the program.
*Correction: This post has been updated to reflect that Pre4Cle enrolled 4,080 children in 2014-15.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.