Proposed Rules for High Quality Pre-K Released

Chandra Villanueva

After hearing testimony from stakeholders on December 1, 2015, the Texas Education Agency has released the Commissioner’s proposed rules on what should be included in the criteria to qualify for the High Quality Pre-K Grant Program (HB 4).

Under the proposed rules, a high quality program is defined in terms of curriculum, teacher training, and family engagement. While the rules provide some clarification about what constitutes a high quality Pre-K program, they do not address several critical factors such as classroom sizes, student-teacher ratios, or the need for a full-day program.

An overcrowded classroom impacts a teacher’s ability to be effective and give students individualized attention. Increased teacher qualification requirements and improved curriculum alone are insufficient when student- teacher ratios are unacceptably high. The rules reflect the status quo of a half-day program, but expanding to full day of instruction as part of a high quality program would allow more time for constructive interactions between the teacher and students.

Rather than establishing a set grant amount, the proposed rules determine grant amounts based on available funds, eligible grant applicants, and the number of qualified students. With these variables, grant amounts can change every year and it’s hard for districts to plan and make investments. If the grants were a set amount, it’s possible the grants would serve fewer kids, but the districts would have confidence in knowing the amount of the grant from year to year.

The Texas Education Agency will take public comment on the proposed rules until March 7, 2016.

Check out CPPP’s full set of recommendations for implementing HB 4.

Comments
2 Responses to “Proposed Rules for High Quality Pre-K Released”
  1. IT is obvious that HB4 is not truly about high quality PreK it has more to do with restrickting funds that may otherwise positively impact communities in need. I’m disappointed as are other working parents who have put faith in the school finance system to ensure tax payers and families can continue to grow and thrive in their communities. Working class families once again are placed in the lowest priority by the state. No full time working parent has the ability to maintain both their job and a part time PreK program. This is essentially a baby sitting program and parents may do better hiring the neighbors kids to help out. We need real quality in education not a fabricated newly improved status program for only a few people in Texas.

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