Too few children arrive at school ready to learn. Many children living in poverty reach 1st grade two years behind their peers — though they are only 6 years old. Only 50 to 60 percent of eligible 4-year-old children are served in some form of child care or preschool program. The educational quality of these programs is mixed, and we do not have the data or analytical capacity to know how well they are preparing young children for kindergarten success. And even as current programs support some of our children from low-income families, affordability poses a barrier to effective preschool for many children whose families come from all income levels.
A culture that puts students first should start with its youngest students. Research and common sense show that waiting until kindergarten or 1st grade to begin educating our children is educationally foolish and fiscally unwise. Accordingly, although it was outside the scope of our Committee's initial charge, we recommend that the state adopt a series of inter-related changes to strengthen preschool and kindergarten services.
The Committee's report, Students First: Renewing Hope for California's Future, summarizes its recommendations for how to prepare California's children for success from the earliest age. Detailed recommendations are available in the Create A Foundation for Continuous Improvement of the Committee's Technical Report.