With pre-school enrollment dropping by as much as 17% during the COVID-19 pandemic, you might be interested in knowing where are the States with the Best & Worst Early Education Systems.

To determine the best early education systems in America, a new study compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 12 key metrics. The data set ranges from the share of school districts that offer a state pre-K program to several pre-K quality benchmarks met and total reported spending per child enrolled in pre-K.
For example in California these were the findings:

Quality of Early Education in California (1=Best; 25=Avg.):

  • 10th – Share of 3- and 4-year-olds Enrolled in pre-K, pre-K Special Education, and Head Start
  • 19th – Income Requirement for State Pre-K Eligibility
  • 18th – Total Reported Spending per Child Enrolled in Preschool
  • 13th – Total State Head Start Program Spending per Child Enrolled in Preschool
  • 1st – Monthly Child Care Co-Payment Fees as a Percent of Family Income

More insight included some of the most important factors that influence a child’s educational development.

“Five factors influence child development the most: genetics, environment, health and nutrition, early access to high-quality childhood education, and family. The only factor we cannot influence is genetics, but all the others are in our power to change for better educational outcomes.
The family factors relate to parent’s education, family income, stability of home life, low exposure to toxic stress, early access to books and play materials, ” said Irina Falls a professor at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

“The factors that most strongly affect educational attainment take place before children ever enter a school building. If we want to help all our children do better, we need to pay greater attention to their families and early childhood programs. For example, parents differ in how much they talk with their children, expanding their vocabularies, and this predicts children’s later reading performance. High-quality early care and education programs predict children’s later school performance, and even their high school graduation rates and college attendance! Some school districts have noticed these facts and redirected some of their funds to high-quality, early childhood programs for parents and their 2-4-year-olds. Each dollar has its biggest positive impact in those earliest years,” added Dave Riley, Ph.D. a Rothermel-Bascom professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Of course, the pandemic has affected early childhood education in both short and long term.

“The pandemic has affected every aspect of life for families and their young children. The number of women who have left the workforce will have repercussions on their families’ financial stability for you to come. Many early childhood programs closed during the pandemic and are struggling to re-open. With such poor funding historically, most programs could not sustain the losses they incurred. And yet, program staff worked miracles for the families they served. They helped families cope with remote work arrangements, they conducted regular wellness checks with the families to help them cope with this disaster, and they provided support as families dealt with unimaginable loss. And surely, many programs opened their doors to serve the children of essential workers at every level. Early childhood staff understood that the grocery worker was just as essential as the EMT during the pandemic,” added Sherry M. Cleary, the university dean at New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute.

“The immediate negative effects of the pandemic can be seen in school disruption, unemployment rate, mortalities, and mental health issues. It may take some time for families to come back to their normal functioning. Hence, support, collaboration, and engagement in multiple domains and different engagement levels in society are imperative to decrease the short-term and long-term effects of the current pandemic on early childhood education and U.S. families,” according to M. Hassan Raza, CFLE, and assistant professor at Missouri State University.

For the full report, please visit here.

Source: WalletHub