The good news: More students than ever are enrolled in Pre-K programs in the U.S. The bad news: The rising number of Pre-K students coupled with state education budget cuts across the country has drastically reduced per-child spending on Pre-K programs.
A new report from the National Institute for Early Education Research breaks down the national and state statistics and trends for one of the most vital educational resources: access to quality prekindergarten programs. According to the report, Pre-K enrollment has doubled over the past ten years. But state per-child spending for those programs has decreased by more than $700 - a 15 percent drop - over the same period.
Countless studies have shown the importance of early childhood education in adequately preparing children for later academic success. Investment in ECE programs not only increases graduation rates, but also produces significant long-term savings for states and local communities in the form of lower criminal justice costs and higher taxable incomes. Access to early education opportunities is especially important for low-income students who would otherwise start Kindergarten behind their more well-of peers and who then run the risk of falling further behind academically and dropping out.
The report also provides extremely useful state profiles, measuring not just access to early education programs but also the quality of available programs and whether they meet benchmarks such as small class sizes, teacher degree requierments, etc.
You can download the full report here and check out how your state measures up in providing this crucial educational opportunity!