The State of Preschool Yearbook 2018


The State of Preschool 2018 annual report finds more children attending state-funded preschool programs across the US but funding failing to keep pace, resulting in low compensation for preschool teachers that too often undermines classroom quality.

“We are disappointed by the lack of progress and concerned about how many children miss out on quality early learning experiences that can make a lifelong difference,” said NIEER Founder and Senior Co-Director Steven Barnett, Ph.D. “Some states are moving in the right direction, but many are standing still.”

The NIEER State of Preschool yearbook is the only national report on state-funded preschool programs. This year’s report includes a special section highlighting policies affecting state preschool teachers, as well as changes since 2002, when NIEER began tracking state preschool.

This yearbook, based on 2017-2018 academic year data, shows just a third of 4-year-olds and 5.5 percent of 3-year-olds enrolled in public preschool programs—virtually no change in years. At this pace, it would take states nearly 20 years to enroll even half of all 4-year-olds and it would take nearly a century to reach the 50% mark for 3-year-olds.

State spending per child also has decreased, when adjusted for inflation; and most states fail to pay pre-K teachers comparably to K-3 teachers.

Future progress may be hampered by the sun-setting of federal Preschool Development Grants this year, as only half of states have made plans to maintain enrollment supported by the federal grant.



Suggested Citation

Friedman-Krauss, A. H., Barnett, W. S., Garver, K. A., Hodges, K. S., Weisenfeld, G. G. & DiCrecchio, N. (2019). The State of Preschool 2018: State Preschool Yearbook. New Brunswick, NJ: National Institute for Early Education Research.