Volume 6, Issue 5

March 14, 2007

Hot Topics

New NIEER Yearbook Shows Enrollment Surged, Spending Per Child Declined

NIEER's just-released State of Preschool 2006 yearbook shows how erratic the pattern of expansion in state-funded preschool education has become. Nationally speaking, access for 4-year-olds to state-funded preschool education rose by an impressive 20 percent in a single year. Yet during that period, inflation-adjusted spending per child declined on average — a trend compelling NIEER Director Steve Barnett to conclude that, "State legislatures that wouldn't think about cutting the number of first-graders or reducing the budget for kindergarten seemingly have little compunction about slashing preschool." Beyond the national averages, however, lies a complex and highly variable picture, as these Yearbook highlights show:

  • State pre-K served 942,766 children in 2006 with 28 states increasing enrollments over the previous year. Nine states served fewer children and one served the same number.

  • The launch of Florida's VPK program boosted state pre-K enrollment of 4-year-olds by nearly 106,000, in one fell swoop, accounting for more than half the year-to-year increase for that age group.

  • Twelve states continued to buck the trend and had no pre-K programs.

  • Enrollment of 3-year-olds was nearly stagnant with just five states reaching even 10 percent of their 3-year-olds. Of the 38 states with pre-K programs, 12 states did not serve 3-year-olds.

  • Alabama and North Carolina met all 10 of NIEER's quality benchmarks and six other states met nine of 10.

  • Nineteen programs in 16 states made policy changes that increased the number of benchmarks met by their quality standards.

  • Of the 38 states with programs, 20 did not require all state pre-K teachers to hold at least a bachelor's degree.

  • Average state spending per child enrolled was $3,482. New Jersey spent more than $9,854 per child and South Carolina $1,085 per child.

To access The State of Preschool 2006 yearbook, which was funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, visit http://nieer.org/yearbook/.

A set of recommendations issued by the National Task Force on Early Childhood Education for Hispanic Children last week aims to remedy the under-representation of this group in public pre-K, address teacher supply and preparedness and provide a solution to the language issues that continue to impede progress of Hispanic children who are English Language Learners. Among the recommendations are increasing Hispanic access to public programs (including Head Start and Early Head Start), increasing the number of Spanish-speaking teachers and second language specialists, and stepping up efforts to design, test and evaluate language and literacy development strategies. The report points out that more research is needed to develop the best approaches to language and literacy in pre-K classrooms. Funded by the Foundation for Child Development and other philanthropic organizations, the task force was formed in 2004 to identify major educational challenges facing Hispanic children. Read about the report at http://www.ecehispanic.org/work/expand_PR.pdf.


March 14, 2007 - March 17, 2007
Clearwater Beach, FL – This conference will focus on supporting young children's social-emotional development.
March 23, 2007 - March 25, 2007
Las Vegas, NV – Join administrators, policy makers, and child care professionals for the NCCA's Annual Leadership Conference.
March 29, 2007 - March 31, 2007
Jacksonville, FL – This conference will feature speakers who are renowned experts.
April 3, 2007 - April 5, 2007
St. Louis, MO – Join preschool teachers, parent educators, and early childhood specialists and child care professionals for the annual Parents as Teachers conference.
April 16, 2007 - April 18, 2007
San Antonio, TX – This conference offers participants the opportunity to broaden their understand of the Head Start program.
April 25, 2007 - April 28, 2007
Boston, MA – This conference aims to improve the quality of early care and education across the country.

Early Education News Roundup

March 8, 2007
The Hutchinson News, Hutchinson, KS
As all-day kindergarten grows in popularity, some districts are asking parents to pay for the extra costs of the longer program. Pay programs have critics, but proponents say charging is one of the best ways for districts to provide full-day programs in states like Kansas and Indiana, which only pay for half-day programs.
March 7, 2007
Albuquerque Journal
The science is conclusive: Children that participate in high-quality early education programs are more likely to graduate high school, go on to college, and maintain meaningful employment. A recent five-state study conducted by the National Institute for Early Education Research found substantial early language, math and reading gains among children who received state-funded Pre-K education at age 4.
March 5, 2007
Austin American-Statesman
[Gov. Rick] Perry has proposed an additional $80 million over the next two years for early childhood programs that adhere to the Texas Early Education Model, which [Brooke] Jones and [Rachel] Brace use at the Children's Courtyard. The model encourages the state's three main government-funded providers of pre-kindergarten — public schools, Head Start and child care centers that accept federal welfare-to-work vouchers — to share teachers, facilities and ideas.
March 4, 2007
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Using an idea that's catching on throughout the state, the [Menomonee Falls School District] plans to partner with local preschool and child care centers to give 4-year-olds a half-day program that proponents say will give them an educational boost for years to come. Almost every Wisconsin school district looking to add a new 4-year-old kindergarten program is considering such a collaborative approach, said Jill Haglund, an early-childhood education consultant for the state Department of Public Instruction who estimated that the partnerships exist in about 50 school systems.