Today NIEER released its 2013 State Preschool Yearbookat CentroNía/DC Bilingual Public Charter School in D.C. This newest installment of the Yearbook series covers policies, enrollment, and funding for state-funded pre-K programs in the 2012-2013 school year. Joining NIEER Director Steve Barnett at the event were Myrna Peralta, President/CEO of CentroNía; Roberto Rodriguez of the White House Domestic Policy Council; and Rob Dugger of ReadyNation/America’s EdgeClick for the full report.
This year’s report found states still struggling to recover from the economic downturn that did so much damage to preschool programs in the previous year. As Barnett noted, “Our nation has emerged from the recession, but preschool-age children are being left to suffer its effects. A year ago, our data showed a half-billion-dollar cut in funding for state pre-K and stalled enrollment. For 2012-2013, we find that enrollment is down and funding per child, while up slightly, remains stalled at near-historic lows.”
Particularly of concern, the report found that:
- In 2012-2013, enrollment decreased by about 9,000 4-year-olds from the prior year across the 40 states plus D.C. that offer pre-K. This is the first enrollment decrease nationally NIEER has observed.
- Slightly more than 1.3 million children attended state-funded pre-K, 1.1 million of them at age 4, accounting for four percent of 3-year-olds and 28 percent of 4-year-olds.
- On the plus side, 20 states increased enrollment while 11 states reduced enrollment.
- One program improved against NIEER’s Quality Standards Benchmarks, while two fell back.
- Also good news, for the first time, every state-funded pre-K program had comprehensive early learning standards. This is first of the quality standards benchmarks to be met by all.
- Four states, plus one of Louisiana’s three programs, met all 10 benchmarks for state pre-K quality standards, the same as in the previous year. This remains down from the peak of five states in 2010-11. Weak program standards persist in too many states, including lax standards for teacher qualifications in 23 programs and no limits on class size and/or teacher child ratio in a few large states–California, Florida and Texas.
- Total state funding for pre-K programs increased by $30 million in real dollars, about a 1 percent increase.
- State pre-K funding per child increased by $36 inflation-adjusted from the previous year, to $4,026.
- Only 15 states could be verified as providing enough per-child funding to meet all 10 benchmarks for quality standards. As only 19 percent of the children enrolled in state-funded pre-K attend those programs, it seems likely that most children served by state pre-K attend programs where funding per child is inadequate to provide a quality education.
Source: Preschool Matters… Today!