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Characteristics of Approved Universal Prekindergarten Programs in Vermont

Northeast & Islands

Description: In 2014, the state of Vermont passed Act 166, providing state-funded, universal access to prekindergarten (preK) for three-year-olds, four-year-olds, and preK five-year-olds through a mixed-delivery system of public and private providers at no cost to families. This legislation provides families with multiple options for enrolling their children in universal preK, including the ability to send their child to any approved public or private preK provider in the state. Full implementation began during the 2016/17 school year.

Early childhood stakeholders in Vermont have partnered with REL Northeast & Islands through the Vermont Universal PreK Research Partnership to learn more about the children who enroll in universal preK and the diversity of program options. Through the partnership, REL Northeast & Islands conducted an initial study using data from the first year of universal preK implementation (2016/17) to understand the characteristics of children enrolled in preK programs.

This second research study will focus on the characteristics of the different programs those children attend. It will explore program characteristics beyond their status as public or private or their quality rating level—including location, teacher licensure information, days and hours that preK is offered, curriculum use, and other characteristics that may be related to family choice of programs or program quality, which can inform Vermont and other states regarding nuanced differences across preK providers.

The first study examined the quality level and types of state preK programs. The second study builds on the first by taking into account multiple program characteristics, providing a deeper understanding of universal preK programs across the state and how they are distributed geographically.

Research Questions:

  1. What are the structural, enrollment, and programmatic characteristics of universal prekindergarten (preK) programs in Vermont?
  2. What are the structural, enrollment, and programmatic characteristics of preK programs in different geographic areas of Vermont?

Study Design: REL Northeast & Islands researchers will calculate frequencies, percentages, and means, as appropriate, to address research question one. These will be displayed in tabular and graphical format to provide an overview of the characteristics of approved preK programs across the state. To address research question two, researchers will group local education agencies by their rurality, poverty level, and number of children under the age of 5. Next, researchers will use descriptive statistics to summarize the structural, enrollment, and programmatic characteristics of programs within each of the groupings. These results will also be mapped.

Projected Release Date: Summer 2021

Partnership or Research Alliance: Vermont Universal PreK Research Partnership

Related Products: What's Happening report

Principal Investigators & Affiliation:
Clare W. Irwin, Ph.D., Education Development Center