By SEANNA ADCOX
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A new report shows nearly half of South Carolina's 4-year-olds who live in poverty attend a full-day preschool program funded by the state, after two expansions approved by the Legislature.
According to the report released this week by the Education Oversight Committee, about 12,500 poor 4-year-olds in 60 school districts are participating this school year. That's up from 5,100 children in 34 eligible districts in 2012-13, before legislators began expanding the program.
More than 20,000 poor 4-year-olds live in ineligible districts. A law passed last year calls for eventually expanding availability statewide.
Committee Director Melanie Barton says while greater access is encouraging, the program is not producing the dramatic improvements needed to close achievement gaps. The report says the state must focus on raising classroom quality.