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Study gives New Mexico high marks for pre-kindergarten push

May 12, 2016
AccessAssessmentOutcomesState & LocalState Pre-K Evaluations
Robert Nott and Cynthia Miller
Santa Fe New Mexican

A new report on early childhood education lauds New Mexico, a state that regularly ranks at the bottom of national surveys on child well-being, for increasing its investments in pre-kindergarten programs and increasing its pre-K enrollment.

The state moved up 10 spots in the 2015 State Preschool Yearbook, a report by the National Institute of Early Education Research at Rutgers University. New Mexico improved to 18 from 28 among states, largely because of its commitment to increasing funds for early education — one of the most divisive political issues in the state. Eight states, the report noted, weren’t included because they have no state preschool programs.

The report comes as state officials and early childhood advocates told lawmakers on the Legislative Finance Committee about plans to continue expanding the state’s pre-K programs.

The State Preschool Yearbook was released Thursday. According to an early draft obtained by The New Mexican on Wednesday, New Mexico PreK, the state’s early education program, met eight out of 10 minimum quality standards set by the institute. The report also gives the state credit for supporting dual-language programs at the pre-K level.

In 2014-15, New Mexico had 8,397 4-year-olds enrolled in pre-K programs — up 9.4 percent, or about 725 students, from the previous year. Total spending on pre-K, based on 2014-15 data, was almost $40 million.