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How does West Virginia rank in access to pre-kindergarten?


July 8, 2016
AccessQuality and Curriculum
Lauren Talotta
WValways.com

“Everyone wants their children to have a good head start,” said Holyfield. It’s a goal that is becoming more and more attainable for three and four-year-olds in our state. Recent studies show that West Virginia is a step above the majority of other states when it comes to providing early childhood education. “The National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University has established a set of quality benchmarks for looking at the different states’ universal pre-K programs. We are one of six states in the nation that actually meet all 10 of those quality benchmarks,” said Monica DellaMea, executive director of the Office of Early Learning for the West Virginia Department of Education.

Officials from the West Virginia Department of Education said it’s been a 15-year journey. “We took 10 years to build the system, and starting in 2012-2013, the state required that legislation required that every four year old who wanted a space, whose family wanted a space for them in the state’s universal Pre-K program, would have a free space, and every three year old who had an individualized education plan, would also have a space as well,” said DellaMea. Legislators began by making sure both quality and access were addressed in state policy, which helped to lay the foundation for this program.