State Pre-K Program Thrives in Alabama

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There is some good news for Alabama's pre-kindergarten program.

The state's program is ranked at the top of the national list.

The National Early Education Research Institute lists Alabama as one of four states with a 10 out of 10 rating for quality pre-k and it shows in the classroom.

"The morale is high the people there want to do what they're doing, they love doing what they’re doing and they do their best. These are important years, where they're learning these skills that are otherwise lost if they’re not getting this exposure and I think politicians and people are starting to realize the importance of pre-k,” Teacher Nikki Cochran said.

The state received $9.4 million dollars in additional funding.

They're using the money to add 93 classrooms across the state, but that's not all.

"Not only did we increase our students by 18, we were able to hire an additional teacher and a teaching assistant. So we were able to add employment as well," Headstart Principal Jerryneta Evans said.

Quantity isn't the only focus.

"One of the things for us here locally, we always think about quality," Evans said.

Along with the extra money, their efforts are paying off.

"Students leave out of here knowing all of their letters, writing their name and reading - so they're already above the level they need to be entering kindergarten," Cochran said.

Pre-k advocates are trying to boost funding by another $100 million over the next decade.

The Headstart program hopes to add more pre-k classes next year.