Menu

Pre-K Across the Country

By: Pre-K Now
The state of pre-kindergarten varies across the country. This national snapshot is a good starting point for understanding what's happening in pre-K right now.

Availability

  • State-funded pre-K programs currently serve just 22 percent of four year olds and 3 percent of three year olds in the U.S.
  • Nationally, about 70 percent of children in state-funded pre-K are served in a school setting. For- and non-profit childcare centers, Head Start centers, and faith-based providers serve the other 30 percent.
  • Florida, Georgia, and Oklahoma are the only states that currently make pre-K available to all four year olds.
  • The District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, New York, and West Virginia have multi-year plans to implement pre-K for all four year olds. (The District of Columbia and Illinois have plans that include three year olds as well.)
  • Twelve states with state-funded pre-K do not offer their programs to three year olds.
  • Twelve states have no state-funded pre-K program at all.

Funding

  • States' spending on pre-k programs varies widely, from $1,600 per pre-K child in South Carolina to more than $10,000 per child in New Jersey.
  • Nationwide, state spending on each pre-K child averages about $3,600, or less than one-third of the average dollars spent on each public-school student in K-12.
  • Twelve states — Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin — and the District of Columbia include pre-K as part of their school funding formulas (as of FY2008). This means that at least a portion of pre-K spending is tied to the same funding increases and decreases as K-12 education, though some of these states place limits on the total funding amount available through the formula.

Quality

  • Seventeen states currently meet eight or more of the ten quality-checklist criteria for its pre-K program, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).
  • Ten states currently meet five or fewer of NIEER's quality-checklist criteria.
  • Two states — Alabama and North Carolina mdash; currently meet all ten of NIEER's quality benchmarks.

Teachers

  • About 73 percent of pre-k teachers in state-funded programs report that they have a bachelor's degree (or higher degree).
  • About 56 percent of pre-k teachers report that they hold a teaching certificate from their state designed to include teaching children younger than five years.
  • Twenty-one states do not require all of their state-funded pre-K teachers to have a four-year college degree. Eight of these states do not require any state pre-K teachers to have a bachelor's degree.
  • The average pre-K teacher earns less than half of what the average elementary school teacher earns. About 70 percent of pre-K teachers report earning a salary below 200% of federal poverty guidelines.
  • Pre-K teachers are, to a great extent, reflective of the children they serve. For instance, 71 percent of classrooms where a majority of the children are African American have pre-K teachers who are also African American, and 46 percent of pre-K classrooms with a majority of Latino children have Latino teachers.
Pre-K Now. (2008). National Snapshot: Pre-K Across the Country [Fact Sheet]. Retrieved from http://preknow.org/policy/factsheets/snapshot.cfm.

Reprints

You are welcome to print copies for non-commercial use, or a limited number for educational purposes, as long as credit is given to Reading Rockets and the author(s). For commercial use, please contact the author or publisher listed.

Add comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.
Sign up for our free newsletters about reading

Summer Reading Tips to Go! Delivered to your mobile phone in English or Spanish. Sign up today!
Advertisement
Reading Blogs
Start with a Book: Read. Talk. Explore.

Summer Reading Tips to Go! Delivered to your mobile phone in English or Spanish. Sign up today!
"You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend." — Paul Sweeney