Giving Compass' Take:

• Linda Jacobson discusses Georgia's pre-K program, which successfully increased test results in all academic areas for third graders. 

• How can funders helpt to advance the availability and quality of pre-K? What pre-K options exist in your area? 

• Read about quality in pre-K

Few states have as much experience with public pre-K as Georgia. The first to create a universal state-funded program — not restricted to low-income families or children facing other risks — the state created a model that has inspired other early education-focused policymakers across the country.

“A lot of states look to Georgia for how to set up a system and take it to scale,” said Susan Adams, deputy commissioner for pre-K and instructional support with Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL).

But even as the program enters its 27th year this fall, leaders say they are still learning lessons about how to balance quality improvement efforts with expanding preschool access to more children and working with teachers in the early grades to build on learning that takes place in pre-K — the same challenges facing the field nationally.

Some of those questions are addressed, and additional ones are raised, in a new study led by Diane Early of Child Trends, who worked with DECAL to examine test scores for all of the state’s 3rd-graders during the 2015-16 school year. The analysis compares scores for those who did and didn’t attend state pre-K in 2011-12.

The findings show students who attended Georgia pre-K had slightly higher scale scores on the state’s end-of-grade test than those who didn’t in all subject areas — by 3.95 points in English language arts, 4.36 points in math, 2.73 points in science and 3.46 points in social studies. Program participation also increased the chances students would score at the proficient or distinguished level on the state test.

Read the full article about Georgia Pre-k program by Linda Jacobson at Education Dive.