Boise Schools seeing huge improvement from Pre-K pilot project

Posted at 10:32 PM, Oct 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-18 00:32:13-04

The city of Boise is seeing an amazing improvement in some pre-school reading scores.
It's the result of a pilot program to prove that pre-k education works.
Idaho is one of only six states in the country that doesn't provide funding for pre-k education.
But judging by the results from a group of Boise test students, the legislature might want to take notice.

"What we found here is 86 percent of them achieved benchmark heading into kindergarten which is amazing," says Vanessa Fry with the Idaho Policy Institute.
Before pre-k only 53 percent of their peers achieved benchmark.
That's a 33 percent jump. 

"Now we have some dramatic evidence that shows how much this can help," says Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, "We just need to extend this and get the legislature to move and extend this all the way across Idaho."
Since 2015, 80 preschool students at low income Hawthorne and Whitney elementary schools got pre-k help.
The teachers may be the only ones not surprised at the results.

"I strongly believe early childhood education is important and it needs to be a priority in Idaho,"  says Whitney elementary teacher Sheila Dengler-Shaw.
It takes money, in this test case, the funding came from United Way, Micron Foundation and others.
But studies show children who don't come to kindergarten ready to learn end up costing much more in the long run.

"What may happen in the long run is those kids may need special ed and so what this dose is reducees long term costs," says Fry.
Just about every state in the union realizes that and is increasing funding for pre-k.
The question now is whether the results in these kids is enough to convince Idaho to do the same.
The project is in it's third year in Boise.
The first students from 2015 are in first grade now and their progress will be tracked through all the way through third grade.