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Bad news for Indiana preschool prospects?

Watch for some interesting data from the Indiana Department of Education -- somthing that, if it lives up to its billing, apparently will contradict evidence from across the nation on the value of early childhood education.

State Superintendent Tony Bennett suggested today the state is about to release such data. He made the comment in response to concerns voiced by educators about the state's intent to hold back third-graders if they aren't reading at grade level. A school official rightly noted that it was difficult to hold students to those standards when the state offers no funding for preschool. Indiana is one of just 10 states that dedicates no dollars for preschool and does not even offer full funding for full-day kindergarten.

I asked Bennett about the data after the public session at the Region 8 Education Service Center in Columbia City. he said he didn't "want to get too far ahead" of the data, but said it was based on "formative and diagnostics" that have been administered in Indiana schools

"I don't want to get too deep in this," Bennett said. "There is preliminary data that raises this question. ... It may contradict this universal call that preschool and full-day kindergarten is the solution to this issue," he said.

I'm guessing the department has data demonstrating the "fade-out effect" of preschool, which was answered pretty effectively by a recent Harvard economics study.

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor for The Journal Gazette, has been an Indiana journalist since 1981. She writes frequently about education for The Journal Gazette opinion pages and here, where she looks at the business, politics and science of learning as it relates to northeast Indiana, the state and the nation. She can be reached at 260-461-8206 or by e-mail at kfrancisco@jg.net.

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