In 2011, the Saint Louis Public Schools made the transformative decision to expand free, full-day early childhood education to 2,000 children, in order to provide young learners with strong academic and social foundations. Recognizing that research clearly shows the importance of early childhood education as an investment in long-term student success, the District’s decision stepped out ahead of the current policy landscape and, despite the lack of state funding to do so, made a commitment to providing strong early starts for families who might not otherwise have the means to access quality preschool. This investment is already showing results: children who attended SLPS pre-K score higher on state tests than their peers who did not attend SLPS pre-K, expanding the academic possibilities for every child who attends SLPS pre-K from here on out.
As the District enters its 6th year of the expanded early childhood education program, program improvements are a constant. Most recently, the SLPS Foundation partnered with the District to provide teacher training to implement a research-based curriculum through the Center for Collaborative Classrooms to ensure that pre-K classrooms across SLPS are not only delivering the best academic content to young learners, but are also doing so in a collaborative way that is proven to support the social, emotional, and academic development of children. Early results are promising: after the first year of implementation, assessments show that nearly 97% of 4 year olds are prepared to enter kindergarten.
In an effort to continue to improve the early childhood education program, SLPS Foundation is working with the District to provide continued investment in teacher training, resources like independent reading libraries, and opportunities for community input on how to improve early childhood education. Funding for this effort is thanks to a generous gift from the Taylor Family.