|By Susan Edelman|
January 10, 2016
City pre-K programs lag behind
nonprofits in quality: analysis
City-funded pre-kindergarten programs run by nonprofit, community and faith-based organizations rated an average 12 percent higher in quality than those run by the city Department of Education, a stunning analysis shows.
The findings are based on the city’s “quality reports,” which evaluate factors such as health and safety, classroom environment, and meaningful activities.
In addition, the privately-run, non-unionized pre-K programs scored 20 percent to 30 percent higher than those in public schools in neighborhoods such as Brownsville, Central Harlem and the South Bronx, according to an analysis by pro-charter group Families for Excellent Schools.
Mayor de Blasio, who made universal pre-K a major initiative, released assessments of 1,114 taxpayer-funded pre-K centers last month. About 68,500 children attend the free programs — more than triple the 20,000 from when de Blasio took office. The city pays community and church-based groups to run pre-K programs in addition to those offered in public schools.
The analysis also found:
- Overall, privately run pre-K programs outperformed DOE-run programs in 26 city school districts, had the same average score in one district, and a lower average score in five districts.
- Of the 50 lowest-scoring programs, 42 are DOE-run.
- Of the 50 highest-scoring programs, 36 are privately run.
All programs were scored from 1 to 7 on the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale — and 261 fell below a score of 3.4, a basic threshold for positive outcomes. Experts call a score of 5 good.
The program with the highest score — 5.9 — is run by the Grace Lutheran Church in Astoria.
“It’s a very rich program that relates to the interests and experiences of the children,” director Mary-Elaine Leake told The Post.
The church, which the city pays about $9,520 per child, runs two full-day pre-K classrooms.
DOE spokeswoman Devora Kaye said, “We are visiting pre-K programs every day and have added instructional coaches and social workers to ensure every pre-K has a supportive learning environment that is best for kids.”