How the Future of San Antonio Early Childhood Education Got Started
Former Mayor Julián Castro convened a blue ribbon task-force of Chief Executive Officers, Superintendents, and education professionals to identify the most effective method for improving the quality of education in San Antonio. The Brainpower Taskforce recommended the development of a program focused on high quality prekindergarten services for four-year-old children because research shows high-quality prekindergarten has the most impact in improving overall education outcomes for a community and helps children to learn and read on grade-level, making them less likely to fall behind their classmates and more likely to graduate and attend college.
San Antonio citizens voted “yes” to investing in four-year-olds and Pre-K 4 SA was born.
Pre-K 4 SA opened the doors of its North and South Education Centers, welcoming its first 700 students. The program began with seven partner school districts – Edgewood, Harlandale, North East, Northside, San Antonio, Southside and Southwest independent school districts joined us as partner school districts our first year.
Pre-K 4 SA initiated its professional learning program, extending early childhood best practices to teachers throughout the city through seminars, workshops, and classroom embedded coaching that allows teachers to obtain state-certified continuing education credits CEUs.
Pre-K 4 SA opened its East and West Education Centers to serve a total of 1,500 students in its second year.
Pre-K 4 SA’s Competitive Grants Program launched. San Antonio public, charter, private, parochial schools and licensed childcare facilities were invited to apply for funds to help them to enhance, expand or create early childhood education programs.
In its third year, impressive milestones were attained:
- Pre-K 4 SA reached peek enrollment, welcoming a total of 2,000 4-year-olds to their four model education centers located in each quadrant of the city.
- Through the Competitive Grants Program, $4.2 million in grants were awarded to 16 education providers throughout the city. Grants are available to three categories of education providers across San Antonio: 1) public/charter schools, 2) private/parochial schools, and 3) child development centers.
- An independent study using the Teaching Strategies GOLD Assessment showed Pre-K 4 SA students who trailed the national norm at the beginning of the school year exceeded the national norm in cognitive, literary and mathematics at the end of the school year.
Continuing to build on success:
- Pre-K 4 SA was honored with the prestigious H-E-B Excellence in Education Award in early childhood education.
- Pre-K 4 SA welcomed an additional partner school district — East Central Independent School District.
- For the fourth straight year, Pre-K 4 SA students exceeded the national norm in kindergarten readiness, as measured by the GOLD Assessment. Pre-K 4 SA students surpassed averages in cognitive, literacy and mathematics, and eliminated the gap in oral language, physical and social-emotional, despite beginning the year significantly below average.
- Pre-K 4 SA teachers were observed using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS). Results showed Pre-K 4 SA teachers demonstrate instructional quality above the research threshold in all three domains of emotional support, classroom organization and instructional support. These results indicate Pre-K 4 SA provides quality instruction that leads to higher outcomes for students. Results from a new assessment of executive function also showed Pre-K 4 SA scored higher than children in municipal pre-k program in another city.
In its fifth year, Pre-k 4 SA continues to make strides in Early Childhood education with these milestones:
- A Parents as Partners program was launched to support the Parent Engagement initiative
- Pre-K 4 SA secured NAEYC accreditation for North, South, and West Pre-K 4 SA Education Centers
- An official partnership was established with New Frontiers.
Pre-K 4 SA introduced its Early Learning Leadership Series
This year, Pre-K 4 SA is already making an impact.
- Pre-K 4 SA formed a partnership with Edgewood Independent School to create Gardendale Pre-K 4 SA Early Education Center.