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UNC School of Government

Thinking Big for Small People: why are NC County Leaders so Enthusiastic About Pre-K for Four Year Olds?

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Did you know?

  • Pre-kindergarten education ("pre-K") is increasingly being recognized as an integral part of efforts to help close the achievement gaps that exist at the time children enter kindergarten and can persist until they enter the workforce.
  • Whether a third grader reads at grade level is predictive of whether that child will graduate from high school, enroll in education and training after high school, and develop high-level job skills.
  • At the halfway point between birth and grade three, pre-K for four year olds is one effort receiving a lot of attention by policymakers, parents, education researchers, and brain scientists.
  • The state of North Carolina supports a targeted program for four year olds called "NC Pre-K" that was ranked first nationally in quality but 41st in access by U.S. News & World Report in 2016.

It is not surprising, then, that state and local officials are focused on expanding pre-K as a way to ensure more of North Carolina's children are ready for kindergarten and the challenges beyond. In fact, the recently passed state budget for 2017-19 included funding to serve an estimated 1,725 additional children in NC Pre-K during the next school year, and about twice as many in 2018-19.

Plan to join the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, the North Carolina School Boards Association, and the School of Government's ncIMPACT team for a unique "data deep dive" on pre-K. This program is specifically designed for local policymakers. During our time together, you will hear from experts in the field and engage in work that helps you apply what you learn to your local context.


Anita R. Brown-Graham rejoined the School of Government in September 2016 to lead the public launch of ncIMPACT—a special initiative that seeks to expand the School’s capacity to work with public officials on complex policy issues. Since her arrival, she and her colleagues have devised programs t...
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