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Rhode Island a National Leader in Quality Pre-Kindergarten

One of Only Two States to Meet Quality Standards of the National Institute for Early Education Research

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Rhode Island was recognized today as a national leader for quality pre-kindergarten programming by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). As the state continues to expand pre-kindergarten access and increase funding for quality early childhood education, Rhode Island has emerged as one of only five states to meet NIEER’s current quality standards benchmarks, and one of only two states to meet NIEER’s new standards.

“Investing in early childhood education is an investment in the future success of all students, and that investment is starting to pay off,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “Now, we must stay the course and continue these critical investments. We have high-quality programs in place, and I remain committed to expanding access to more students and families across Rhode Island.”

“This is exciting news for our state, as we work to improve and expand early childhood programming for Rhode Island students and families,” said Barbara S. Cottam, Chair of the Board of Education. “This recognition signals that we are on the right track, and we will continue to support pre-kindergarten until Rhode Island is number one in the nation.”

“I’m grateful to Governor Raimondo and the General Assembly for their support of early childhood education. The Governor’s expansion of quality pre-K and the implementation of all-day kindergarten statewide creates a stronger, more cohesive PK-12 system of education, and fosters a pipeline of students who are prepared, eager, and ready to learn when they enter school,” said Ken Wagner, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“It is great news that Rhode Island is leading the nation in the quality of our state’s Pre-Kindergarten program. We know the benefits of high quality Pre-K for the school readiness and school success of our youngest learners. Now we need to work together toward the goal of leading the nation in access and enrollment so more of our young children are on an early path to success,” said Elizabeth Burke Bryant, Executive Director of Rhode Island KIDS COUNT.

NIEER announced Rhode Island’s achievement in the State of Preschool Yearbook, a national report on state-funded pre-kindergarten programs, with detailed information on enrollment, funding, teacher qualifications, and other policies related to quality. Rhode Island has more than tripled enrollment since the 2014-2015 school year.

The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) launched its state-funded program nine years ago, thanks to a federal Preschool Expansion Grant from the U.S. Department of Education, and the program continues to grow with the support of Governor Gina Raimondo. For the 2017-2018 school year, pending budget approval, the program is on track to add four new classrooms for a total of 60 classrooms in 11 communities: Central Falls, Cranston, East Providence, Johnston, Newport, North Providence, Pawtucket, Providence, Warwick, West Warwick, and Woonsocket.

The lottery for the Rhode Island Pre-kindergarten Program is now open, and families must submit their applications by July 1. Families can apply online or can pick up an application at a program location. To be eligible, children must be 4 years old by September 1, and they must be residents of one of the identified communities.