Nearly 400 Early Learning Centers earn state honor roll recognition

Nearly 400 publicly funded early childhood education programs, about 25 percent of all sites, have earned a spot on the state’s “Honor Roll” as a result of their performance in 2018-2019. The announcement comes the day before the state will release annual early childhood performance profiles and K-12 school report cards in the Louisiana School and Center Finder.

“Louisiana took a great step forward when it began publicly reporting the performance of early childhood centers alongside their counterparts in K-12 systems,” State Superintendent John White said in a statement. “The Honor Roll released today complements that effort by recognizing and rewarding the sites that achieved remarkable success this past year. We applaud these sites for providing families, particularly those who are economically disadvantaged, with access to high-quality care and for acting as models for excellence and growth.”

“These standout sites really highlight the great work being done throughout Louisiana in early education. We are caring for our earliest learners in safe, emotionally supportive, and educational environments, preparing them for success in school and life,” said Tony Davis, a member of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. “Our state is being well served by its investment in early childhood education, and I proudly continue to advocate for additional funding to expand these kinds of gains.”

The Honor Roll recognizes early childhood programs, including early childhood centers, Head Start, and pre-kindergarten, in three categories.

Overall, 363 sites made the Honor Roll for 2018-2019, up from 277 sites the previous year, the department says. Of that total, 113 were recognized in the “Excellence” category, 216 were recognized in the “Birth to Three” category, and 57 were recognized in the “Top Gains” category. Some sites are listed in more than one category of the Honor Roll.

Rapides Parish was highlighted for successfully overseeing 63 sites that have made it on to one or more of the lists. The network is among the most improved in the state, and it was one of the first early childhood education networks to establish a ” Ready Start Community Network,” a Legislature-backed pilot program to develop local strategies to increase access to and improve the quality of publicly-funded early childhood care and education.

“The Rapides Early Childhood Network has steadily improved the quality of early care and education to our youngest children. In 2015-2016, Rapides has only 48 percent of our sites achieving Proficient. In 2018-2019, 95 percent of our early education sites are Proficient, and over 53 percent of those are High Proficient or Excellent,” said Cindy Rushing, early childhood coordinator for the Rapides Parish School District. “Our community network has much to celebrate because of the tireless work, energies, and single purpose to provide excellent early childhood educational programs for Rapides children birth to age 5. We want every child in Rapides Parish to receive a high-quality learning experience that promotes student achievement and school readiness. These youngest citizens are our future and deserve our best efforts in creating quality classroom environments in which to reach their maximum potential.”

Each site on the Honor Roll will receive a special badge on their performance profiles in the  Louisiana School and Center Finder and a state certificate to display on-site.

The Honor Roll, now in its third year, accompanies the annual release of performance ratings. Since 2017, Louisiana has reported performance data for all publicly-funded early childhood programs, including early childhood centers, Head Start programs, and pre-kindergarten sites, as a way to measure the core elements needed for positive child outcomes, provide a clear and focused path to improvement, and give families an easy way to compare choices in their community, the department says.

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