West Virginia’s Preschool Program Receives Top Marks

April 09, 2009

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia’s state-funded prekindergarten program ranks high in enrollment, resources and quality, according to The State of Preschool 2008 released this week.

The annual survey produced by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) ranks all 50 states on the percentage of children served and spending per child for 2007-2008. It also compares the number of quality benchmarks met.

The West Virginia Universal Pre-K program enrolls 43 percent of the state’s 4-year-olds, ranking sixth out of 38 states that fund preschool education. The state provides $4,793 per child enrolled, giving West Virginia a resources ranking of 12th out of 38. Quality standard benchmarks met remain relatively high at seven out of 10.

Nationally, the annual survey of state-funded preschool programs showed impressive expansion in enrollment and spending. However, it cautioned that the recession may reverse the trend, curtailing early education opportunities for children in lower and middle-income families.

Key findings include:

• Enrollment increased by more than 108,000 children. More than 1.1 million children attended state-funded preschool education, 973,178 at age 4 alone.
• Thirty-three of 38 states with state-funded programs increased enrollment.
• Based on NIEER’s Quality Standards Checklist, 11 states improved the quality of their preschool programs. Only one fell back.
• State pre-K funding rose to nearly $4.6 billion, from all reported sources, to $5.2 billion, an increase of nearly $1 billion or 23 percent from 2007.
Research shows that high-quality pre-K can help improve the educational success of all children, decrease dropout rates, crime and delinquency, and improve economic productivity and health.
For more information, contact the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.

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