Why we do what we do: Increasing pre-K enrollment is a priority and here’s why

Having your 4-year-old attend pre-K will prepare him or her for their future. At ImpactTulsa, we strive to enroll every Tulsa-area child in pre-K because it builds a strong foundation for later academic success. Here’s why:


The research is clear. Children who attend pre-K outperform children who do not. Children who do not attend pre-K are less likely to have the skills they need to do well in kindergarten and beyond. In fact, Georgetown University tracked Tulsa students from pre-K to eighth grade and found positive results between student success and pre-K participation. Students who attended pre-K were 31 percent less likely to be retained, 34 percent less likely to be chronically absent, and more likely to enroll in gifted or honors programs than peers who did not attend.


“Entering school ready to learn can improve one’s chances of reaching middle-class status by age 40 by about eight percentage points,” Kathy Seibold, ImpactTulsa executive director said. “Pre-K teaches children basic skills needed to begin reading and mathematics as well as social skills, teamwork and communication.”


Encouraging pre-K enrollment and facilitating processes for enrollment are key roles for ImpactTulsa. We utilize a variety of advertising and communication avenues to reach families. This year, we launched our Parent Advocate initiative, sending volunteers into areas that have historically low 4-year-old enrollment numbers. Advocates go door-to-door to help people enroll children who might otherwise be missed.


“We are dedicated to reaching as many families as possible,” Seibold said. “We want all children and families to have the resources they need to lead successful and rewarding lives.”


“Narrowing our school readiness gap instead of broadening it is critical,” said Lisa Muller, Jenks Public Schools associate superintendent for educational services. “And pre-K especially helps students who are at a socio-economic disadvantage or are English language learners. We are able to bring them up to grade level through quality pre-K education and more frequently remove the need for remediation in kindergarten. Pre-K is a win-win for parents and students, schools and the educational system in Oklahoma.”


Oklahoma is only one of three states in the country with universal pre-K, meaning pre-K is available and free to all Oklahoma children. However, our research shows one in three Tulsa-area 4-year-olds are not currently taking advantage of this quality, free educational opportunity.


“That means more than 3,000 students in Tulsa County alone are not taking advantage of district pre-K programs,” Seibold said. “It is ImpactTulsa’s goal to change that.”


ImpactTulsa’s efforts are working: Overall enrollment in public pre-K programs in the Tulsa area has increased from 69 percent to 72 percent since 2013.


“We’re seeing improvements in the number of 4-year-olds enrolled, which means we expect to see improvements across reading and math achievement as these children get older,” Seibold said. “Pre-K brings many benefits to a child’s education, and we won’t slow our efforts until we know all children are receiving the educational start they deserve.”


Visit prektulsa.com today to learn how to take advantage of Tulsa’s nationally recognized pre-K program, learn about the specific pre-K offerings in schools near you or read more about the benefits of pre-K education for your child.