Gov. Kay Ivey and the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education announced 41 new classrooms will be funded through the Pre-K through 3rd Grade (P-3) Integrated Approach to Early Learning, including Wetumpka Elementary School which will receive $45,000.

“Alabama children have reaped the benefits of our nationally recognized First Class Pre-K program and our P-3 program works to build upon those gains all the way through the third grade,” Ivey said in a release. “As we head into year three of the P-3 program, I’m proud to be funding 41 additional classrooms. Those early years are vitally important for a student’s future success. 

“By expanding this program even further, we are certainly taking advantage of those valuable years in a child’s learning journey.”

This funding supports an additional 32 kindergarten classrooms, five first-grade classrooms and four second-grade classrooms to take part in the P-3 program, bringing the new statewide total from an original 35 classrooms in the 2017 pilot year to 117 P-3 classrooms for the 2019-20 school year.

The goal of the P-3 program is to expand the early learning continuum from First Class Pre-K through third grade. 

The Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education and the Alabama State Department of Education are working together to align instructional practices, assessment and leadership from pre-K to third grade.

P-3 works to ensure student success and achievement gap closure by expanding access to the nationally recognized, high-quality First Class Pre-K program model and taking the most successful parts of K-3 initiatives to establish a strong foundation of early learning experiences that promote student achievement and success.

“A high-quality early education provides the foundation for student success in school during the years when children have the greatest growth potential,” Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education Secretary Jeana Ross said in a release. “We are excited to have these new models of seamless learning continuum from pre-K to third grade that align and integrate a comprehensive approach to student learning.”

P-3 is funded by the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education through the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Governor’s Strong Start Strong Finish education initiative and the federal Preschool Development Grant, Birth through Five.

Currently, 1,348 children are impacted by the P-3 program. With the addition of 41 new classrooms to the program, more than 2,100 students will be participating in the Pre-K through 3rd Grade Integrated Approach to Early Learning in the 2019-20 school year.

In addition to funding new P-3 classrooms, 14 Alabama elementary school principals and school system administrators have successfully completed the Alabama Pre-K through 3rd Grade Leadership Academy. 

The first collaborative initiative of its kind in the nation, the P-3 Leadership Academy is provided in partnership with Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS) and the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). 

This is the only such program in which participants, upon successful completion of the program, receive a national certification credential.

In June 2018, the first cohort in the country to complete this national pilot program received their Alabama P-3 Leadership Credential and the third leadership cohort will commence this month.

By applying their knowledge of child development, subject matter content and pedagogical approaches to align educational experiences along the P-3 continuum, educators ensure children enter classrooms that promote their ongoing educational progress by building on what they learned during the previous year. Knowing this, educators can intentionally integrate the developmental domains into the teaching and learning subject matter for young children.

Research findings from multi-year early education interventions suggest the components of the P-3 approach can combine to make a positive contribution to young children’s learning, providing the pathways through which more children will achieve success by the end of third grade.