Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program for Four-Year-Old Children
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The purpose of Iowa's Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program for Four-Year-Old Children is to provide an opportunity for all young children in the State of Iowa to enter school ready to learn by expanding voluntary access to quality preschool curricula for all four-year-old children. The allocation of funds for the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program is intended to improve access to quality early childhood education and provide a predictable, equitable and sustainable funding method to increase the number of children participating in quality programs. Therefore, the four-year-old preschool funds are intended to increase the number of children participating in quality programs.
In the 2016-2017 school year, 322 of 333 districts will participate in the program. In 2015-2016, the certified enrollment count was 23,141.
Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program Map 2016-2017 (2016-06-09)
The following guidance can assist participating school districts and community partners:
- FAQ for Implementation (2016-07-12)
- Compulsory Attendance for 5-year-old Students - This document provides information related to attendance of four-year-old children enrolled in the SWVPP.
- Finance Guidance - Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program (2016-07-12)
- Finance FAQs for the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program (2016-07-12)
- Transportation - Participating School Districts must work within the transportation guidelines of Iowa Code section 285.10.
Legal Requirements and Reports
The Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program for Four-Year-Old Children was established May 10, 2007. The program provides an opportunity for all young children in the State of Iowa to enter school ready to learn by expanding voluntary access to quality preschool curricula for all four-year-old children.
These rules implement the Statewide Voluntary Preschool for Four-Year-Old Children created in Iowa Code chapter 256c by Iowa Acts 2007 (HF 877). They provide guidance to school districts in the implementation of the program.
The Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program rules are found in 281--Iowa Administrative Code 16.
GOLD Online Assessment System
Iowa Code section 279.60 requires districts to assess all preschool children with the GOLD online assessment and maintain local agreements with Teaching Strategies, Inc. under the GOLD State Service Umbrella Agreement. This includes any preschool-aged child enrolled by a parent in a district program.
The Iowa Department of Education (DE) has a statewide license for Teaching Strategies GOLD through an umbrella agreement with Teaching Strategies, Inc. This agreement provides the GOLD online assessment system and reduces the subscriber fees for all state and federally funded early childhood programs and services, including Iowa school districts, their community partners, Shared Visions, as well as Head Start, Area Education Agencies and other programs located in the state of Iowa. This web‐based online system allows programs, as well as AEAs and the DE, to assess child progress based on research‐based widely held expectations from birth through kindergarten and provide reports at the individual, group, regional and statewide level.
To subscribe to the Teaching Strategies GOLD complete the form located at this link: http://teachingstrategies.com/state/iowa/iowa-department-education-gold-online-application/
Iowa GOLD Online Procedures (2016-09-08) - Teachers, practitioners, and administrators are encouraged to use the Iowa GOLD Procedures document to assist them in setting up and using GOLD online.
The following are guiding practices that can assist participating school districts and community partners.
Iowa Early Learning Standards/Child Standards
Participating school districts in the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program for Four-Year-Old Children will follow the Iowa Early Learning Standards. These standards identify the knowledge, skills, motivation, and attitudes needed by preschoolers that lead to success as students enter school and as adults. The developmental areas are:
- physical well-being and motor development
- approaches to learning
- social and emotional development
- communication, language, and literacy
- mathematics and science
- creative arts
- social studies
Programs participating in Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program for Four-Year-Old Children must meet one of the following program standards. Each standard is indicative of high quality programming efforts. Preschool programs meet or will meet quality standards within 12 months of implementation of the preschool program.
- Head Start Program Performance Standards
- National Association of Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Standards and Criteria
- Iowa Quality Preschool Program Standards (QPPS)
- High Quality Preschools Issue Brief
Staff Qualifications and Staff Development
Participating school district teachers will receive professional development focusing on areas appropriate to the role of an early childhood teacher and implemented in accordance with Iowa Code section 284.6. School districts will also make appropriate professional development opportunities available to community partner teachers of the preschool program who are not employed by the district. District and community partner support staff working in four-year-old preschool classrooms should also be provided opportunities for staff development in early childhood education. These opportunities are to be addressed in the school district career development plan and follow the Iowa Professional Development Model.
Numerous studies have found that the education levels of preschool teachers and specialized training in early childhood education predict teaching quality and positively affect children's achievement of social, emotional, language, literacy and cognitive skills. The Iowa Department of Education provides both research and policy guidance in this Issue Brief.
Preschool Teacher Assistant Qualifications
The type of preschool program and required program standards determine the type of qualifications required for teaching assistants. This document provides options that are open to teaching assistants for meeting state and federal requirements.
Qualifications for Preschool Teacher Assistants (2014-08-06)
Iowa’s school districts and their community partners operating Statewide Voluntary Preschool Programs (SWVPP) and preschool classrooms providing early childhood special education (ECSE) instructional services are required to demonstrate that the programs are meeting one of the approved sets of program standards and criteria. Iowa’s school districts and their community partners that have adopted the Iowa Quality Preschool Program Standards (IQPPS) are encouraged to utilize the IQPPS documents and resources to engage in a continuous improvement process to design and support the understanding of current practices, strengths, and challenges in implementing the standards and criteria.
Additionally, the school year following the approval to participate in the SWVPP, the DE Early Childhood Consultants conduct an on-site visit to districts that have adopted the IQPPS to verify the SWVPP and preschool classrooms providing ECSE services are meeting the IQPPS and criteria. During the visit the team conducts a family interview, classroom observation(s) and facilities tour; as well as, review classroom portfolio(s), program portfolio, staff files, and child files.
Each Area Education Agency has Early Childhood Consultants that can provide information and support to local school districts as they plan for the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program for Four-Year-Old Children. Contact information is provided in the following document:
Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program for Four-Year-Old Children requires participating school districts to maintain local agreements with Teaching Strategies, Inc. under the GOLD State Service Umbrella Agreement and assess all preschool children with the GOLD online assessment. This includes any preschool-aged child enrolled by a parent in a district program.
- Information on Teaching Strategies GOLD online assessment can be found at https://www.teachingstrategies.com/page/GOLD-assessment-online.cfm.
Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program for Four-Year-Old Children requires participating school districts to adopt a research or evidence-based curricula that is developmentally appropriate, including age appropriate, individually appropriate, and culturally appropriate. In order to meet the needs of the diverse population of children, families and communities; curricula should be culturally sensitive and flexible.
The Iowa Department of Education does not endorse any one preschool curriculum. Commonly used, commercially developed curriculum packages that meet the above criteria include:
- Creative Curriculum for Preschool http://teachingstrategies.com/curriculum/
- High Scope http://www.highscope.org/Content.asp?ContentId=63
The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) outlines dimensions to consider when making decisions about preschool curriculum in this Policy Brief.
Best Practices in Curriculum, Assessment & Program Evaluation
The National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has a Position Statement on Early Childhood Curriculum, Assessment, and Program Evaluation to guide implementers of early care and education programs.
Hiring Licensed Teachers
The TeachIowa.gov website is an avenue to recruit licensed teachers for the preschool program:
- School districts can post job vacancies and search applicants' resumes.
- Early childhood teachers interested in these jobs can search for jobs and share information with School Districts through the online application.