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Edgewood among 7 schools to receive early learning funds

Edgewood Elementary in Selma is among seven schools across the state that will play host to 34 new classrooms to be funded through the Pre-K through 3rd Grade Integrated Approach to Early Learning (P-3) program, according to an announcement by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education (ADECE) on Tuesday.

The addition of 34 classrooms brings the state’s total to 208 covering 21 counties.

“Today’s announcement is part of an intentional effort to give Alabama’s children a strong start towards a successful educational career,” Ivey said in a press release. “P-3 works to align the gains in First Class Pre-K to ensure students do not have a gap in instruction. I am proud that we can provide more tools for teachers and school leaders to continue providing students with the best models for learning in the critical early years.

Along with Edgewood Elementary, the following schools will receive funding through the P-3 program: Harmony School in Cullman County; Blount Elementary in Montgomery County; Iola Roberts Elementary in Pell City; Myrtlewood Elementary in Tuscaloosa County; Carbon Hill, Curry and Parrish elementary schools and Lupton Junior High School in Walker County; and Lynn Elementary School in Winston County.

According to the press release, the goal of the program, which is moving into its fifth year, is to “expand the early learning continuum from First Class Pre-K through 3rd grade,” with the ADECE and the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) working collaboratively “to align instructional practices, assessment and leadership from Pre-K to 3rd grade.”

“As we work to align the birth through 8-year-old early learning continuum, P-3 provides successful transition of Pre-K children and families into their school settings,” ADECE Secretary Barbara Cooper said in the release. “Data shows that First Class Pre-K students are more likely to be proficient in reading and math and less likely to have disciplinary issues or be retained in a grade.”

Currently, just over 3,000 Alabama children are impacted by the P-3 program – the addition of 34 new programs will ramp that number up to more than 3,600.

The program is funded by the ADECE through the Governor’s Strong Start, Strong Finish initiative and the federal Preschool Development Grant, Birth Through Five.

In addition to classroom funding, the program provides administrators with the opportunity to participate in the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) Pre-K through 3rd Grade Leadership Academy, for which administrators receive a national certification upon completion – to date, 79 Alabama elementary school principals and state school administrators have completed the program, with another 24  set to finish by April.

“Leadership is critical in successful education initiatives,” the press release from Ivey’s office stated. “By applying their knowledge of child development, subject matter content, assessment, and pedagogical approaches to align educational experiences along the P-3 continuum, educators ensure that children enter classrooms that promote their ongoing educational progress by building on what they learned during the previous year. Knowing this, educators can intentionally integrate the developmental domains into the teaching and learning subject matter for young children.”