From the White House to statehouses nationwide, momentum is building to make early education accessible to more young children and give them a strong start in school. But how our country can make those early learning opportunities available to all kids, especially when one in five children lives in poverty, is an issue our nation's lawmakers are only just beginning to tackle.
As part of its annual Quality Counts report, Education Week has released a special section grading states on their effort to expand pre-k and support those youngest students and their teachers. It's a great resource for anyone interested in pushing for more and better access to early learning opportunities in their state.
From Education Week:
"The Education Week Research Center also conducted an original analysis of participation in early-education programs, poverty-based gaps in enrollment, and trends over time. The center’s Early Education Index grades the states based on federal data across eight critical indicators. The nation as a whole earns a D-plus on the index, while half the states earn grades in the C-minus to C-plus range. The District of Columbia ranks first in the nation with a B-plus.
'No state really aces the exam on early-childhood education,' said Christopher B. Swanson, Vice President of Editorial Projects in Education, the nonprofit organization that publishes Education Week. 'In fact, we find very inconsistent performance across early-childhood indicators, with the majority of states ranking in the top 10 for some areas but in the bottom 10 for others. This speaks to the complexity of early education’s patchwork of laws, institutions, and programs spanning the public and private sectors.'”
There's plenty of great data to delve into in the report, like this analysis of the difference in preschool enrollment between children from low-income and higher-income families:
Access the full report here. And don't miss the OTL Campaign's policy guide on early education, which gives examples of how different states are working to expand access to pre-k, better support young families, and develop high-quality early education teachers.