Federal policymakers are divided, but in U.S. states there is bipartisan support for investing in pre-kindergarten, where pre-k spending has risen for the second consecutive fiscal year, according to a new report.
States boosted state spending on pre-k by $672 million in fiscal 2014-15, building on a 6.9 percent increase the year before, the report by the Education Commission of the States found.
Washington state was among the states leading the charge, ranking sixth out of the top 10 states, with $16.2 million in new spending. The state’s investment was focused on expanding its preschool program, the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP).
Even with the rising investments by states in pre-k there is a long way to go. More than half the nation’s preschooolers did not attend publicly-supported preschools, according to the report.
Why is pre-k so important? Pre-k plays a key role in preparing students to succeed in school. If they don’t get a strong start in school, the odds they will succeed later get longer. Children who did not read well in third grade were four times more likely not to complete their traditional high school years with a diploma, according to a report released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in 2011.
Pre-k raises those odds, the new report said.
A recent analysis integrating evaluations of 84 preschool programs concluded that, on average, children gain about one-third of a year of additional learning across language, reading and math skills when attending quality preschool programs.
— “State Pre-K Funding: 2014-15 fiscal year.” Education Commission of the States, January, 2015.
“Pre-Kindergarten: Funding Across States,” New America Foundation, 2/10/15.