CFED Assets & Opportunity Scorecard
Quality of State Pre-K Programs
States with established state pre-K programs, including funding and quality standards, 2010-2011 school year.
Early childhood development creates a foundation for later school achievement, workforce productivity, responsible citizenship and successful parenting. Pre-K programs prepare children for learning, both in school and later in the workforce, and are vital to a state’s economic prosperity. States should establish and fund high-quality pre-K programs that are accessible to all children.
States are assessed on the following criteria:
- Does the state have an established state pre-K program? Because federal support for early childhood education programs does not sufficiently cover all children, state supported pre-K programs are critical. State supported pre-K programs create opportunities that prepare young children for school, particularly economically disadvantaged children who are at greater risk of educational failure. State-funded pre-K programs should be offered in a variety of settings, including private for-profit and nonprofit child care centers, Head Start programs, public schools and faith-based centers.
- Does the state provide sufficient funding for a high-quality state pre-K program? Of the 39 states (including the District of Columbia) with state-supported programs, only 18 provide funding sufficient to run high-quality pre-K programs. State per-child spending should meet the National Institute for Early Education Research’s (NIEER) estimates of the necessary amount to provide high-quality programs.
- Does the state pre-K program include high-quality standards? States should establish high-quality standards for pre-K programs to ensure children have access to meaningful learning environments. To help children develop socially and mentally, states should set high-quality benchmarks for pre-K programs that are proven to nurture children’s development. NIEER recommends 10 quality benchmarks that are foundational elements of high-quality programs, ranging from teacher training to class size to availability of supportive services. States should adopt these standards in their pre-K policies.
Although early childhood education is not a Policy Priority in the current Scorecard, it was in prior years. The 2009 Resource Guide and Policy Brief provide more information on strong Early Childhood Education policies. In 2007 and 2009, CFED also published the following case studies on early childhood education:
Progress in North Carolina (published September 2009)
With significant legislative and gubernatorial support for early childhood education and the institutionalization of community support through local boards, there has historically not been a need to organize a statewide advocacy coalition around early childhood education in North Carolina. However, the recent economic downturn, combined with the transition to a new governor, made it clear the early childhood system would not be immune from budget cuts. Click here to read more.
Oregon’s Ready For School Campaign (published September 2007)
The long-term goal of the Ready for School campaign is for all Oregon children to arrive at kindergarten ready to succeed. Working with the Children’s Institute, an Oregon nonprofit that moves research to action, Ready for School focused on getting the state legislature to fully fund Oregon Head Start Prekindergarten (OPK) as its first action step. OPK, a comprehensive high quality pre-kindergarten program for three- and four-year-olds living in poverty, was producing excellent results, but only reaching 60% of the eligible children. Click here to read more.
Quality of State Pre-K Programs
|Dollar amount |
per child enrolled
in Pre-K ($)
|Sufficient state |
|Adequately high standards |
(7 of 10 standards met)?
|District of Columbia 1||Yes||$11,665||—||No (5.5) 2|
|New Jersey||Yes||$11,669||Yes||Yes (8.8)|
|New Mexico||Yes||$3,561||No||Yes (8)|
|New York||Yes||$3,685||No||Yes (7)|
|North Carolina||Yes||$7,910||No||Yes (10)|
|Rhode Island||Yes||$9,127||Yes||Yes (10)|
|South Carolina||Yes||$2,934||No||No (6.7)|
|West Virginia||Yes||$9,136||Yes||Yes (8)|
Barnett, W. Steven, et al. The State of Preschool 2011: State Preschool Yearbook. New Brunswick, NJ: National Institute for Early Education Research, 2011.
"—" Indicates that no data is available.