Editor’s Note: Copies of the “Report on the Implementation and Expansion of the Child Development Education Pilot Program (CDEPP),” can be found online at www.eoc.sc.gov. The report was transmitted to members of the SC General Assembly today.
Columbia – The South Carolina Education Oversight Committee (EOC) released a report today evaluating the Child Development Education Pilot Program (CDEPP), a full-day educational prekindergarten program for at-risk four-year-olds residing in 51 SC school districts. The program is currently in its eighth year of implementation in both public and private child care centers. Although the program has expanded the number of students served this year, data and quality issues persist.
During last year’s legislative session, the SC General Assembly appropriated $48.8 million to the CDEPP program, an increase of $26.1 million. As a result, it is projected an additional 2,966 at-risk four-year-olds will be served in 2013-14, bringing the estimated total of children served to 8,282. The number of children served in private centers approved by the Office of First Steps is projected to double while the number in public schools will increase by 50 percent.
|2013-2014 CDEPP (projections)||Public Schools||Private Settings|
|Number of Providers||
82 Childcare Centers
8 Head Start Centers
|Number of Classrooms||391||103|
|Number of Children||6,981||1,301|
According to the Melanie Barton, Executive Director of the EOC, one explanation for the significant increase in the private centers is that CDEPP has expanded into more populated suburban districts that have more childcare centers.
“The expansion of the CDEPP program will require the inclusion of private childcare centers,” stated Barton. “Public schools are very often limited by space.”
Barton noted that approximately 68 percent of at-risk four-year-olds living in CDEPP-eligible school districts are estimated to be served in Head Start, the ABC Voucher Program, and CDEPP. Approximately one-third of at-risk four-year-olds statewide are estimated to be served in a federal or state-funded program.
Data and Program Quality Issues
While the program has expanded in both public and private centers, issues of program and data quality continue to be concerns, preventing a thorough and complete evaluation of the program. For example, student-level data and unique student identifiers were not provided to the evaluation team.
According to the report, the impact of CDEPP on early literacy, early mathematical ability, and social and emotional development is currently impossible to determine because there is no requirement for the administration of a readiness assessment to children entering CDEPP as four-year-olds.
“We simply cannot tell legislators or taxpayers whether this program is preparing young people for kindergarten because the data don’t exist until third grade,” stated Barton.
According to the academic performance of the initial CDEPP cohorts on the Palmetto Assessment of State Standards (PASS) in third grade, a greater percentage of students who as four-year-olds participated in CDEPP achieved or exceeded state standards in reading and mathematics as compared to their peers who qualified for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program, who resided in the same CDEPP districts, but who did not participate in the four-year-old program. In addition, a greater percentage of students who as four-year-olds participated in CDEPP achieved or exceeded state standards in reading as compared to other students in the state who received subsidized meals. However, in mathematics, the two groups of students performed the same.
The report looked at alternative measures of program quality including the ABC Quality rating on the South Carolina Division of Early Care and Education website which publicly documents deficiencies by providers.
According to Dr. Bill Brown, a professor in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of South Carolina “we know relatively little about the quality and nature of CDEPP services in both public and private centers. What we do know is that the quality of educational services offered to children can and should be improved.”
Six recommendations are included in the report to improve the implementation and administration of CDEPP in the future:
The SC Education Oversight Committee is an independent, non-partisan group made up of 18 educators, business persons, and elected leaders. Created in 1998, the committee is dedicated to reporting facts, measuring change, and promoting progress within South Carolina’s education system.