Recent reports from the Picard Center for Childhood Development and Lifelong Learning show that Louisiana's LA 4 program, designed to provide high-quality pre-K to students who do not have access to pre-K, continues to improve the academic performance of children into the 3rd and 4th grades.

Report: LA 4 Students Arrive at 4th Grade on Time at Higher Rates Than Peers
Students who participated in LA 4, the state's high-quality pre-K program, arrived at 4th grade on time at higher rates than their peers who did not participate in any public pre-K program.  In fact, on-time 4th-grade arrival rates for LA 4 students averaged 8.5% higher than their same-school, economically disadvantaged peers who did not participate in any public pre-K program.

One of the La. Dept. of Education's Critical Goals requires students to enter 4th grade on time. The DOE defines this goal as the percentage of students promoted from kindergarten through 4th grade, with no retention and regardless of class or race.

LA 4 students arrived on time in 4th grade at an average rate of 73.6%—very close to the Department's immediate goal of 75% statewide.

Read more findings for on-time 4th-grade arrival here.

LA 4 Still Showing Effects in 3rd and 4th Grades
A Picard analysis of 3rd and 4th grade iLEAP and LEAP scores indicates that low-income children (identified by Free or Reduced Meal Services status) who received LA 4 had significantly elevated rates of achieving “Basic or above” on all subjects areas assessed by the 3rd grade iLEAP and 4th grade LEAP. This analysis was conducted on children who participated in LA 4 during the 2004-05 and 2005-06 school years.

"Despite national researchers reporting the inability to detect the impact of early childhood programs longitudinally, our recent LA 4 studies show moderate effects remaining even after 4th grade," says Picard executive director Dr. Billy Stokes.

Read more findings for iLEAP and LEAP performance here.

About LA 4
The LA 4 prekindergarten program began in 2001 with the passage of Senate Bill 776 in order to serve four-year-old children not currently enrolled in publicly funded prekindergarten classes. The LA 4 program was modeled after the Starting Points prekindergarten program, which began in the 1992-1993 school year.

The LA 4 and the Starting Points prekindergarten programs follow Louisiana Standards for Programs Serving Four-Year-Old Children to assure the provision of high quality services at no cost for children eligible for free or reduced lunch. Characteristics of the programs include:

  • Certified teachers
  • Small classroom sizes of 20 students
  • 10:1 student to adult ratio
  • Research-based and developmentally appropriate curricula
  • Full day program
  • Professional development
  • Classroom assessment with Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS-R)
  • Student assessment with the Developing Skills Checklist
  • Evaluation and longitudinal research
  • Collaboration with other agencies
  • Support services for students and their families

The LA 4 program also provides transportation for its participating students and before-and-after school enrichment activities available to all four-year-old students, whether or not they participate in the full program. The Louisiana Department of Education contracted with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Center for Child Development and its affiliates, the Center on Health and Education at Georgetown University and the Center for Educational Accountability at the University of Alabama at Birmingham to conduct program evaluation and research activities for LA 4 and Starting Points. This report highlights the evaluation results from past years of LA 4 and Starting Points as well as the 2004-2005 school year.

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