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[r29] Column: Quality education from the start
Start Date: 4/30/2014Start Time: 8:00 AM
End Date: 4/30/2014End Time: 8:00 AM
Entry Description
Quality education from the start

In Hamilton County, we have some of the top rated schools in the state. Noblesville is a leader in educational attainment as more than 93 percent of students graduate from high school. From this, 90 percent go on to higher education. This is a testament to the dedication of local teachers and administrators, the strength of our community, the work ethic of students and the high level of involvement from parents.  

Almost two-thirds of Hamilton County residents hold at least an associate degree, which is by far the highest in the state and a good distance from the second highest, Monroe County, at 51.7 percent. Unfortunately, these high statistics are outliers and not common throughout our state. Some counties are lucky to have 1 in 5 residents with some sort of higher education degree, which is a great concern considering 55 percent of Hoosier jobs will require some post-secondary education by 2018, according to the Center on Education and the Workforce.

The last couple of legislative sessions we have worked to address these issues and our subsequent “skills gap.” Numerous studies have found that preschool and early education play a major role in how successful students are in school and in life. This year, we expanded upon our past initiatives by creating a pilot program for students of low-income families to attend high-quality preschool programs.

I am confident that more counties throughout Indiana can realize the same level of achievement as Hamilton County, and it starts with a strong education system.

In 2013, it was the first time in our state’s history that preschools and other early education programs were able to apply for matching funds through the Early Childhood Education Matching Grant Program. These grants assist families that are living below poverty level, so their children can attend high-quality preschool programs.

In order to promote only the highest caliber early education programs with these competitive grants, the programs have to maintain a Level Three or Level Four Paths to QUALITY rating. Paths to QUALITY is the child care quality and improvement system conducted by the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA). The agency evaluates interested child care facilities according to a four level quality rating; the most basic level being that the children’s health and safety needs are met, and the highest rating is given when national accreditation is achieved. These ratings are easily accessible on the facilities’ websites and help parents choose an excellent program for their children.

The preschool programs applying for these grants were also required to obtain a cash match from a community organization. Nearly $1.5M in grants was awarded to early education programs, with an additional combined $1.5M from the matching donations. It is encouraging to know that Indiana organizations have been willing to help better the future of so many students. Not only will these funds guarantee a better chance for proper early education, but they will better our state over time by improving student goals and achievement. 

Last session, we continued efforts to better the early education programs of Indiana, especially for less fortunate children. I supported creating a preschool pilot program, so more Hoosiers could have the opportunity for upward mobility in our state. Starting in 2015, the grants from this program will go to individual, four-year-old students who come from a family income of up to 127 percent of the poverty level. To ensure the pilot program is meeting expectations, a longitudinal study will be conducted by the Prekindergarten and Early Learning Study Commission.

On average, children  receive 1,400 hours of reading by the time they enter first grade, but sadly, most children living in poverty receive only 25 hours. This is staggering. A child’s educational attainment upon entering kindergarten is a strong predictor of success in high school and is correlated to incarceration rates. It is apparent to me that we need to promote better early education opportunities throughout Indiana. These programs, along with the enthusiasm of the community, will start students on the right track.

-30-

Representative Kathy Kreag Richardson (R-Noblesville)

Contact Information:
Name: Nicholas Goodwin
Phone: 317-232-9831
Email: nicholas.goodwin@iga.in.gov
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Entry Type:
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Entry Category:
  • Announcements
  • IN.gov Category:
  • Government
  • Education
  • Family & Health
  • Agency Name
    House of Representatives Republican Caucus

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