Name Change: The current name for the program—Four-Year-Old At-Risk—was created to describe the focus of the program and the ‘label’ of the children participating in the program. The purpose of the program is ‘preparing children for success in school’ and a name that reflects that purpose would seem to be more appropriate, as well as more non-discriminatory. Therefore, starting in 2013-14, this will be the State Pre-Kindergarten Program.
The major purpose of the State Pre-Kindergarten program is to provide a high quality early learning experience for young children in the year before they are eligible to enter kindergarten. The outcome is for children to enter kindergarten ready to succeed. This clarification is based upon current evidence that children who are at-risk benefit from being educated in a high quality early learning program with their peers, including those young children who may need special education services. Therefore, the following information has been clarified for use beginning in 2013-14 and ongoing thereafter.
Children who have an IEP AND who meet at least one of the first seven (1-7) at-risk criteria must be considered as potential members of the Four-Year-Old At-Risk classroom and cannot be excluded from participation solely based on their having an IEP.
Children with IEPs will not generate At-Risk funding, and will therefore, not reduce the number of funded slots requested by a district. However, they will take a ‘participation slot’ in the classroom, thereby potentially increasing the number of children to be educated through the State Pre-Kindergarten Program. Districts may therefore need to increase their number of at-risk classrooms if more than 20 children in the district fit the at-risk requirements and are appropriate for participation in the Four Year old at-risk program. This clarification does not prohibit districts from creating blended programs that contain students who do not meet at-risk criteria. It only serves to clarify that children with IEPs who meet at least one of the first seven at-risk criteria must be considered for participation and cannot be excluded solely because they have an IEP.
OUTCOME: Children will enter school ready to succeed.