MSRP vs. Head Start

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A new study released Tuesday shows that Michigan's state-funded pre-K program is more effective than the federally-funded Head Start program.

When it comes to vocabulary skills, children enrolled in the MSRP showed a 21 percent standardized gain compared to the seven percent gain of students in Head Start.

The study was conducted by the National Institute for Early Education Research.

"We have found that the MSRP produces large gains in literacy and early math for four-year-olds," said Steven Barnett, the director of NIEER, and co-author of the study.

Sergio Keck, the director of the MSRP for the Lansing school district, said he's not surprised.

"The curriculum allows our teachers to know what they have to teach to have kids ready for kindergarten," Keck said.

Keck added the reason for the program's success is the high standards to which they hold their teachers. Unlike many other states, pre-k teachers in Michigan have to be state-certified.

The study also finds that MSRP children have a big advantage over kids who aren't enrolled.

Gains in vocabulary skills are 24 percent higher, gains in math skills are 64 percent higher, and gains in print concepts such as identifying letters and pictures are 177 percent high than kids who aren't in the program.

There are currently 215 pre-schoolers enrolled in Lansing's MSRP program. Keck said there's plenty of room for more.

"This is a great opportunity to have our kids catch up as quick as possible and to succeed in kindergarten," he said, "I hope more families choose to enroll their kids."

The state is proposing to extend the MSRP to three-year-olds.