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Seattle Preschool Program Wins National Honors Again for High-Quality, Accessible Programming

The Seattle Preschool Program (SPP) was recently awarded its fourth silver medal for high-quality preschool programming from CityHealth and the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University.
Seattle Preschool Program logo

City’s Pre-K program wins its fourth silver medal from national study of the 40 largest U.S. cities.

SEATTLE (December 18, 2020) – Last week, the Seattle Preschool Program (SPP) was awarded its fourth silver medal for preschool programming from CityHealth and the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University. The honors stem from an annual, national report released by NIEER that rates how 40 of the largest U.S. cities are leading on policies that address health and well-being, including high-quality, accessible pre-K. This is the fourth year in a row that SPP has won a silver medal. Enrollment in both in-person and remote SPP classes is still available for this school year through March 14, 2021. Applications for the 2021-2022 school year will open in March.

“When we support kids and families through early learning programs, our children in all parts of the city and from all backgrounds can reach their full potential,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan. “The Seattle Preschool Program is reducing the barriers facing low-income families by investing in high quality early learning to help close the opportunity gap. Developing strong cognitive, emotional, and language development in our youngest learners is a giant step toward creating success in schools for years to come. I encourage Seattle families to apply for the Seattle Preschool Program today.”

“I am incredibly proud of the way the Seattle Preschool Program has embedded standards of quality into the fabric of our program,” said Dwane Chappelle, Director of the Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning, which administers the City’s preschool program. “I want to thank all our SPP providers and my staff at DEEL who showed tenacity and creativity during a challenging year to ensure our city’s early learners continue to have access to quality preschool programming that will improve their kindergarten readiness and prepare them for a lifetime of learning.”

The NIEER/CityHealth report rates preschool programs on 10 quality standards and on the percentage of four-year-olds enrolled in high-quality preschool in the city. Seattle was the first city in the country to meet all ten quality measures, and has done so in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. The program is not yet meeting the study’s access goal of 30% of four-year-olds enrolled in public preschool, which is the only measure standing between SPP and the gold medal.

Modifications for COVID-19 were announced for both programming and tuition for the 2020-2021 school year earlier this fall, with SPP providers offering one of three programming options: in-person, 100% remote, or a hybrid option of both in-person and remote. Tuition, which is typically on a sliding scale based on household income and free for many Seattle families, was waived for all families in remote programming and reduced by 50% for families enrolled in hybrid or in-person preschool. Roughly 65% of SPP children are attending in-person programming at least part of the week, with 35% in remote-only, family-directed learning.

The Seattle Preschool Program is funded by the 2018 Families, Education, Preschool, and Promise (FEPP) Levy and is an integral component in the City’s strategy to eliminate race-based opportunity gaps in educational outcomes. Research shows that children who attend high-quality preschool programs have better academic and life outcomes and are more likely to have better grades, graduate, attend college, and have better mental and physical health. Currently, 78% of SPP families enrolled this year are from BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities.

Visit or call 206-386-1050 for more information or to apply to the Seattle Preschool Program. 

Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning’s mission is to transform the lives of Seattle children, youth, and families through strategic investments in education.   

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