Referendum Investments - Early Childhood and Elementary Education

A Strong Beginning

Quality early education is important for all children. Research shows that a five-year-old’s vocabulary can range from 500 words to 5,000 words based upon the experiences they have from birth to kindergarten. The more enriching learning experiences they have in those critical early years, the better prepared they are for school.

Currently, Minnesota is one of the few states that does not fund all-day kindergarten. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. Children attend an all-day kindergarten program.

The Wilder Foundation has done extensive research on the importance of a strong beginning to closing the achievement gap. Their recent study “How we can close the early learning access gap for low-income children in Minnesota” is available here.

In the 2011-12 school year, the referendum provided $9.1 million for early learning and $5.2 million for elementary education, which supported:

  • 28 Pre-Kindergarten (PreK) classrooms for 1,152 four year-olds
  • Transportation to and from PreK
  • All-day Kindergarten in 42 schools
  • Parent education in school readiness
  • 56 Early Childhood Education Classes in 11 locations citywide
  • Class sizes at desired ranges in elementary schools

Evidence of Success:

  • A study by Wilder Research shows that in the year before kindergarten, Saint Paul’s PreK children made progress more quickly than children nationally.
  • 82 percent of PreK students are on target in “alphabet knowledge”, a key indicator of kindergarten readiness.
  • In 2010, PreK reduced the learning gap between White and African American students from 26 to 10 percent.
  • 96 percent of ECFE families reported a high rate of satisfaction in both early childhood and parent education.
  • In 2011, there was a consistent pattern of gains across all grades in reading proficiency on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA). State-wide increases were consistently lower than the increases by Saint Paul students.