The event, which is part of the commissioner's Back-To-School tour, is just one of 200 sites that participated in the field test QUALITYstarsNY. This is the state's new quality rating and improvement system, which indicates how effective educational activities and programs offered are in early childhood development, including teacher qualifications.
The state included a new $4 million investment to expand implementation of the program in the coming school year as part of its strategy to improve learning achievement.
Project Coordinator of QUALITYstarsNY, Ola Friday, said that over 100,000 children in both public and community schools were served through it's Pre-K program.
“Whatever they learn in kindergarten, they bring to all grades,” Friday said. “What we believe is they belong here and early childhood education is really important but sometimes undermined.”
“Our curriculum has changed a great deal because of Quality Stars,” said Joyce Woesthoff, assistant principle of the school, located at 67-25 51st Road. “Even the way they eat breakfast and wash their hands. It sounds very simple, but that's how you learn.”
Woesthoff stressed the importance of Pre-K programs, acknowledging that the earlier learning takes place and problems in a child's life are addressed, the easier they are to fix. “It's very hard to fix issues when they're already in third grade,” she said.
Currently, Woesthoff said the school had both a morning and afternoon class, consisting of two and a half hour periods that serve 72 children. “The great thing about it is that most of the children that come for our Pre-K program go to kindergarten here, too,” Woesthoff said. “They get used to the school and they feel so welcome.”
Tisch said this school had been chosen as part of the back to school tour based on its high academic rating. “We chose this school in conjunction with the New York City Department of Education because they won the school system,” Tisch said.
With a new school year just starting, Tisch said she felt it was important to lengthen Pre-K programs that were currently half day to a full day. “If I could advocate for something, I would say this is the time to expand Pre-K programs,” she said.
Tisch also added that there were other educational areas that needed improvement. “In addition to Pre-K programs, we're going to look very seriously at improvements in the special education field,” she said.