Early Childhood

San Francisco Touts Gains From Pre-K Program

By Julie Blair — October 08, 2013 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Nine years after it began, one of the nation’s oldest city-run preschool programs—San Francisco’s Preschool for All—has significantly boosted minority enrollment in early-childhood education and made a marked difference in all participants’ numeracy, literacy and social skills, its administrators report.

An assessment of participants found that Latino and African-American enrollment in public prekindergarten jumped from 54 percent and 68 percent, respectively, in the 2007-08 school year to 80 percent for both in the 2009-10 school year, said Executive Director Laurel Kloomok, in an email interview. Pre-K enrollment for all racial and ethnic groups during those years went from 72 percent to 83 percent during that same time period, she added.

In addition, Preschool for All students tested three to four months ahead of peers in mathematics and three months beyond them in letter-word recognition in the 2012-13 school year, according to the report from Applied Survey Research, an independent firm, which was released in August of this year.

Among the social gains the program claims at the nine-year mark: Children enrolled in Preschool for All scored an average of 6 percentile points higher on a 2012-13 exam testing self-regulation skills than students who had not participated, Ms. Kloomok said. The scores of Spanish-speaking children were nearly double—12 points, she added.

“San Francisco’s preschool success stems from a combination of factors, but primarily from an unwavering emphasis on both improving equal education opportunity and increasing preschool program quality,” Ms. Kloomok said.

Cities Push Pre-K

San Francisco is one of a growing number of cities to offer city-run pre-K programs, along with Boston, Miami, San Antonio, and Seattle, among others, according to W. Steven Barnett, the director of the New Brunswick, N.J.-based National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University.

In 2004, San Francisco voters agreed to channel $20 million annually to Preschool for All with the intent of offering half-day pre-K to any child who was 4 years old and lived in the city.

The First 5 agency was charged with running the early-childhood program, and then partnered with various vendors including the 55,000-student San Francisco Unified School District, the federal Head Start program, nonprofits, for-profit centers and family child-care providers, Ms. Kloomok said. Families often qualify for more than one program and thus are able to build a full-day model for their children.

Today, 3,400 4-year-old children are participating in the Preschool for All program in the 2013-14 school year, Ms. Kloomok said. A sliding scale based on income is used to determine what each family will pay; many children attend for free.

“Preschool shouldn’t be considered a luxury,” said San Francisco parent Joanna Koon, who is unemployed but was afforded the opportunity to send her now 6-year-old son to Preschool for All. “It benefits children for the rest of their lives.”

But Susan Solomon, the executive vice president of the United Educators of San Francisco, worries about quality and consistency.

Independent Providers

Currently, there are 137 providers in the Preschool for All program—many of which are run independently of the public school system.

“Having more [providers] underthe [school district] would be preferable,” Ms. Solomon said.

Parent John Monson, however, said Preschool for All exceeded his expectations.

“The experience was astonishing,” said Mr. Monson, who picked the public program for his son after assessing 10 different preschools, including some “swanky” options. “The teacher-to-student ratio was great,” he said. “They adopted all these modern teaching methods which are conceptual and child-led.”

Mr. Monson’s son, now a 1st-grader, matriculated to the elementary school where the Preschool for All program is located along with a cohort of fellow graduates who, he says, are changing the culture there for the better. The graduates, he said, are excited to learn, sit quietly, pay attention, and set the bar for others.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Mathematics Webinar
Addressing Unfinished Learning in Math: Providing Tutoring at Scale
Most states as well as the federal government have landed on tutoring as a key strategy to address unfinished learning from the pandemic. Take math, for example. Studies have found that students lost more ground
Content provided by Yup Math Tutoring
Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Early Childhood What the Research Says Preschool Enrollment Has Plunged: What That Means for School Readiness
Census data confirm that more than a million young children missed preschool during the pandemic, putting school readiness at risk.
4 min read
Pre-K teacher Vera Csizmadia teaches 3-and 4-year-old students in her classroom at the Dr. Charles Smith Early Childhood Center in Palisades Park, N.J. on Sept. 16, 2021.
Pre-K teacher Vera Csizmadia teaches 3- and 4-year-old students in her classroom at the Dr. Charles Smith Early Childhood Center in Palisades Park, N.J., last month.
Mary Altaffer/AP
Early Childhood Opinion The Problems With Biden’s Universal Pre-K Proposal
An early-childhood education leader expresses concerns that the universal pre-K plan risks separating pre-K from the wider child-care sector.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Early Childhood What the Research Says Starting School After the Pandemic: Youngest Students Will Need Foundational Skills
The earliest grades saw the biggest enrollment drops in 2020-21. Experts say these students will need significant help come fall.
4 min read
Image shows preschool boy wearing a protective face mask with a marker in hand.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Early Childhood Opinion Waterford Upstart on Providing Remote Learning to 90,000 Pre-K Kids
Rick Hess speaks with Dr. LaTasha Hadley of Waterford Upstart about its use of adaptive software to close gaps in kindergarten readiness.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty