By Emily Zuccaro, with Kathryn Whitmore
Kentucky has been in the middle of a statewide reform program from the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence for the last
6 years. Top 20 by 2020 is designed to push Kentucky’s academic achievement to
the top 20 of the 50 states. The committee published a report that shows
the growth and challenges the state faces in student achievement. While the
state celebrates success in certain categories like fourth- and eighth-grade
reading, the report shows that Kentucky needs to continue pushing more reform in
areas, such as preschool and early childhood services.
The report shows that preschool enrollment for three- and four- year olds is 32nd in the country, moving too slowly to be considered in the top 20 by 2020. The committee suggests several actions to take in the future to promote growth in the area of early childhood education. Children should have access to a program with qualified teachers, and a full day of kindergarten. The state can expand funds for eligibility to three- and four-year olds of families that live 200% at or below the poverty level, as well as including home visits for at-risk families. It is also critical that resources are being used effectively by joining early childhood and education providers together and encourage all early childhood providers to participate in the STAR quality assurance program.