BoardBuzz came across an interesting report via the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) evaluating states on their pre-school programs. The report called The State of Preschool 2007 for the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) compared states on the access and quality of preschool programs they provide to their 3 and 4 year-olds.
The report found that the majority of 4 year-olds across the country still do not have access to state-funded pre-school programs. The good news is, however, that the percentage has almost doubled from just 12 percent in 2002, the first year of the NIEER survey, to 22 percent in 2007. Oklahoma led the way by enrolling 68 percent of their 4 year-olds (not including head start) followed by Florida, Georgia, and West Virginia. Although Tennessee was not a top state in providing state-funded preschool, they did increase their enrollment by 50 percent from 2006 to 2007. A huge step in the right direction.
However, BoardBuzz knows its one thing to provide access to preschool programs and yet another to provide quality preschool programs. The NIEER report compared states on quality as well and found that Alabama and North Carolina had the highest rated quality preschool programs in the country based on NIEER’s 10 standards for preschool quality. (Click here for more information on how states were compared)
BoardBuzz is well aware that starting and expanding state preschool programs are not easy and the educators, school board members, other policymakers and the taxpayers should be commended for their desire to ensure all students start school ready to learn.
Fortunately, our friends at the Center for Public Education and the state school boards associations in Kansas, Ohio, and Texas are busily at work finding ways to bring high-quality pre-k programs to more children in their states. CPE continues to report on these activities along with research, data, and resources to help get communities behind this important effort.
As SREB Vice President of Education Policies Joan Lord stated, “Children who are not prepared for school are the ones most likely to drop out, to find only low-paying jobs, to become unemployed and to face a lifetime of problems.” By helping every child become school-ready, pre-kindergarten is more than a good educational program, it’s a good investment for the community.
Find more information on pre-kindergarten at the Center for Public Education. While there, sign up for CPE’s monthly e-newsletter, Pre-K Primer, which features news and practical information, strategies, and policies for expanding pre-k at the state and local levels. You’ll also find the Center’s Round-up of National Report Cards that simply explains how states are ranked in this and 11 other National “Report Cards” on education quality.