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Access to quality pre-K in WV outpaces other states


June 20, 2016
AccessOutcomes
Mountain Messenger

Many 3- and 4-year-olds still lack access to high-quality preschool education despite modest gains in enrollment, quality, and funding, according to an annual report by the nonpartisan National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University. While several states made significant progress through a concerted effort to increase enrollment and funding and improve quality, progress is slow and uneven nationally and quality standards are particularly low in some of the nation’s largest states such as California, Florida and Texas. Despite the relatively good news this year, the rate of progress is so slow that it will take 150 years for the nation to reach 75 percent enrollment in state pre-K even at age 4.

In West Virginia, enrollment was 16,622, down by 212 children in 2014-2015. However, the state serves 70 percent of 4-year-olds in the state and ranks 5th in the nation in access for 4-year-olds. West Virginia also saw gains in terms of quality standards – meeting all 10 of NIEER’s minimum quality standards benchmarks with the new requirement for assistant teachers to have at least a Child Development Associate credential. Only 5 other states meet all 10. The passage of SB 146 (2016) helps move West Virginia forward in the provision of equitable services for all children, serving as a model for other states by requiring a minimum of 25 hours of weekly instruction.
“West Virginia recognizes that the state’s economic future depends on early investment in its youngest citizens,” said NIEER Director Steve Barnett. “Ensuring that every child has access to high-quality preschool can help pave the way for their success in school, on the job, and in West Virginia communities,” he said.