Recent early education news and updates

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Why should the federal government support high-quality early education?

June 5, 2017
AccessAssessmentState & LocalState Pre-K Evaluations
Valerie Strauss
Washington Post

Every year the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, releases a report on state-funded prekindergarten programs in the United States. It is the only national report with detailed information on preschool enrollment, funding, teacher qualifications and other policies related to quality, such as the presence of a qualified teacher and assistant, small class size and low teacher-to-student ratio.

The newest edition, the 2016 yearbook, was recently released, with profiles on preschool programs in 43 states plus Guam and the District of Columbia and some information on early-education efforts in states and the U.S. territories that do not provide state-funded preschool. There was both good news and bad from the 2015-2016 school year, as the report noted:

Nationwide, state-funded preschool program enrollment reached an all-time high, serving nearly 1.5 million children, 32 percent of 4-year-olds and 5 percent of 3-year-olds. State funding for preschool rose 8 percent to about $7.4 billion, a $564 million increase. State funding per child increased to $4,976, exceeding pre-recession levels for the first time. Six state funded preschool programs met all 10 current quality standards benchmarks. Nine states had programs that met fewer than half; and seven states do not fund preschool at all.

Below is a post on the data and on the federal government’s role in prekindergarten, written by W. Steven Barnett, a Board of Governors professor and director of the National Institute for Early Education Research. His research includes studies of the economics of early care and education, including costs and benefits; the long-term effects of preschool programs on children’s learning and development; and the distribution of educational opportunities. Barnett earned his PhD in economics at the University of Michigan and has written or co-written more than 180 publications.