Legislation would extend Great Start Readiness Program to 3-year-olds, reduce achievement gap

LANSING, Mich., Nov. 8, 2018 — Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D–Taylor) today introduced a bill to expand access to high-quality, state-funded preschool to children at risk of being inadequately prepared for kindergarten.

Senate Bill 1186 would extend the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) to underserved 3-year-olds with a gradual phase-in over a period of two years.

“A high-quality, early childhood education matters to life success,” Sen. Hopgood said. “When you look at the cognitive and social gains that 4-year-olds make in one year in a Great Start Readiness Program, it’s a logical next step to expand it to 3-year-olds.”

Several research studies have shown that low-income children and children of color are more likely to enter kindergarten academically behind their white, more affluent peers. This achievement gap often widens in later grades, making these student groups less likely to succeed academically. However, if young children have access to preschool programs, like GSRP, that provide them with the skills they need to succeed in school, this gap can be reduced.

The most recent evaluation by Michigan’s Children found that GSRP graduates were more likely to be ready for kindergarten, able to pass the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) test in fourth grade and graduate on time, and less likely to be held back a grade.

“All kids should have a strong start in life and be set up to succeed in school,” Sen. Hopgood said. “It’s time Michigan starts to truly invest in making a basic resource like the Great Start Readiness Program attainable for low-income families and more children.”

Established in 1985, the Great Start Readiness Program is Michigan’s free, state-funded preschool program that currently serves 4-year-olds with factors that may place them at risk of educational failure. The program is administered by the Michigan Department of Education’s Office of Great Start and helps provide them with a high-quality, early childhood experience that helps prepare them for kindergarten.