Education officials say an expansion of four-year-old kindergarten has not seen the desired impact in poor, rural counties so far. They warn the achievement gap even appears to be increasing between students in the relatively new program and their urban counterparts.
Members of the Senate were briefed on the findings last week, according to The State newspaper.
South Carolina lawmakers have significantly expanded 4K in the state as part of a budget deal between Democrats who support the program and Republicans who are hesitant about it. In 2013, senators expanded all-day kindergarten from 8 school districts in 2011 to 57 districts in 2015. Eligible districts must have a poverty index of 70 percent or higher. Approximately 12,000 students are enrolled in the Child Development Education Pilot Program (CDEPP) now,
But a January report by the Education Oversight Committee (EOC) found CDEPP students are not showing the progress seen in other wealthier districts that are not in the CDEPP program. While CDEPP students do better than low-income four-year-olds in their districts who did not participate in the program, they trail the statewide average in percentage of non-CDEPP students who “met or exceeded” state standards in Math and English/Language Arts.
The math and English results are taken from the PASS test that students must take in grades 3-5 several years after their CDEPP experience.