Alabama has increased funding for preschool while maintaining high-quality standards with three outcome goals in mind: positive social-emotional skills, acquisition and use of knowledge, and use of appropriate behavior to meet students’ needs. For the past eight years, Alabama’s First Class preschool program has received the highest quality rating by the National Institute for Early Education Research. Alabama has strict student-to-teacher ratio guidelines that ensure each child gets adequate attention from his or her teacher. In addition, teachers must have a bachelor’s degree or higher and specialization in early childhood or a teaching certification. The state’s quality programming also encourages parent involvement in child education.
Alabama has increased budget funding for First Class preschool programming by $10 million for the 2015 fiscal year to provide additional high-quality programs for 12 percent of the state’s four-year- olds. The 2014 fiscal year saw a $9.4 million increase in First Class preschool budgeting, which supported approximately 100 new grants and allowed more than 1,800 children (nine percent of the total four-year-old population) to access state preschool programs. Public-private partnerships allow school districts and states to access additional funds so they can provide their students better educational opportunities. For example, Alabama Partnership for Children (APC) is a prominent Alabama organization that uses public and private partnerships to develop and strengthen programs and increase awareness of early education opportunities in Alabama.