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Maryland’s Unique Judy Center Program Boosts Early Learning


Children participating in early learning programs offered through Maryland’s Judy Centers have an academic jump start on their peers, according to the results of a new report.

Young children who enter kindergarten after taking advantage of the Judy Center offerings score higher in kindergarten readiness in all seven domains gauged by the Maryland Model for School Readiness Assessment Program, according to the new report.

“An Analysis of Influence of Judy Center Services,” being released today, is based on research conducted during the 2008 and 2009 school year by the Maryland State Department of Education. The study looked into the effect of the Judith P. Hoyer Early Child Care and Education Enhancement Program—the Judy Centers—on children starting kindergarten.

“Classroom education is only a piece of the puzzle when it comes to ensuring that all children succeed,” stated Congressman Hoyer. “Today’s report from MDSE proves that Maryland’s Judy Centers – which partner with the community to provide children and their families with a full range of services – have been a success in giving children the tools they need to come to school prepared to learn and excel. We believe we can build on this idea to help more children throughout the country reach their full potential. In the coming weeks I will introduce legislation in the House that would apply the successes we have had in Maryland’s Judy Centers to expand the idea of full-service education throughout the country, so that children receive supportive wraparound services in addition to high quality education.”

State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick said the report confirms what educators have long understood: investment in early learning pays big dividends throughout a child’s schooling.

“The Judy Centers give children a running start on the rest of their educational program,” Dr. Grasmick explained. “We know that when we give young people a strong foundation for learning, they will thrive and prosper. The foundation provided by our Judy Centers is rock solid.”

Maryland launched the Judy Center program a decade ago. The 25 centers, located in 22 local school systems, not only offer early education programs for children, but also support services for children birth through kindergarten and their families who reside in specific Title 1 School Districts.

A primary objective of the Judy Centers is to ensure that young children, including those who are disadvantaged by poverty, limited English proficiency, or special education needs, are fully ready for the rigors of kindergarten when they walk through the classroom door. The Centers are named in honor of the late Judith P. Hoyer, an early childhood advocate, supervisor of early childhood for the Prince George’s County Public Schools, and wife of Rep. Hoyer.

The new study found that:

* Judy Centers serve a significantly larger proportion of kindergartners receiving special services (free and reduced price meals, special education, and English Language Learners) than those in Maryland’s public school system overall (65 percent to 47 percent).

* Seventy-one percent of children who took advantage of early childhood programs and services at Judy Centers were fully ready for kindergarten in the fall of 2009, compared to 63 percent of kindergartners that did not have prior Judy Center experience.

* By spring of the kindergarten year, children who had prior Judy Center experience continued to outrank their peers who did not.

Maryland’s public school system has been ranked as the nation’s finest for three straight years, thanks in part to its innovative early childhood development program. MSDE is a national leader in the evaluation of early childhood learning, establishing an annual evaluation of what entering kindergartners know and are able to do.

For more information about Maryland’s Judy Center programs, click here. For complete results of the new study, click here.

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