Joshua Rainey has the Pre-Kindergarten thing down pat. He knows where the toys are, has no problem socializing with his classmates, and can count to three in German.
His mom, Tracee Rainey, is a big fan of the program.
"I've just kind of seen him blossom," Rainey said. "He's very much more talkative, much more social. Pre-K teaches him how to interact with other children, how to follow a schedule, and just learning the colors, shapes, letters, numbers. It kind of helps him be ready for what I call 'big school.'"
Big school and beyond. The Arkansas Project Graduation Commission is tackling the state's high college drop out rate. Despite a 40 percent gain in college enrollment over the last decade (72 percent for associate programs), the commission's 2009 report says Arkansas students are near the bottom of the list nationwide when it comes to getting degrees.
In its report to the Education Committee, the commission suggest changes to elementary education, like: Investing more money into Pre-K, getting parents more involved in their children's education, identifying and helping students that are struggling, and expanding the Arkansas Works program.
Lisa Peeples, the Arkansas Better Chance Coordinator for the Pulaski County Special School District, says the they can definitely use more money in the Pre-K program.
"Mainly opening up more seats for the children, where we can provide our Pre-k experience for more children in Arkansas," Peeples said.
Peeples says there were 90 kids on the district's Pre-K waiting list this year that didn't get into the program. She also quoted an eye-popping national study that claims students who atten Pre-K are four times more likely to receive a college degree.