West Virginia Continues to Rank Among Top States in Access to, Quality of Early Learning

May 24, 2017

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia’s Universal Pre-K Program once again ranks among the top in the nation, according to the 2016 Yearbook released today by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).

The State of Preschool Yearbook is the only national report on state-funded preschool programs with detailed information on enrollment, funding, teacher qualifications, and other policies related to quality. Despite a slight decrease in preschool funding, West Virginia continues to rank among the top states, maintaining quality standards and broad access. In fact, West Virginia was one of only five states that met all 10 of NIEER’s quality benchmarks.

“Research has shown again and again that high-quality early childhood education can prepare children for greater success in elementary school and beyond,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Steven Paine. “Maintaining quality standards for Pre-K learning throughout the Mountain State ensures that all children – no matter the socioeconomic background – are given the start they need to succeed.”

The West Virginia Universal Pre-K Program boasts a 76 percent participation rate based on 4-year-olds who go on to attend the state’s kindergarten program as 5-year-olds. West Virginia Universal Pre-K enrolled more than 16,000 children, which census data notes is 66 percent of 4-year olds and 11 percent of 3-year-olds in the state. Nationwide, state-funded preschool program enrollment reached an all-time high, serving nearly 1.5 million children, 32 percent of 4-year-olds and five percent of 3-year-olds.

“The success of our early learning programs is reflective of the collaboration with the Governor’s Office, state agencies like the Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR), and the legislature, all of whom see the impact quality early learning programs have on children,” said West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) president, Tom Campbell. “We are constantly striving to maintain the highest-quality early learning programs to give West Virginia’s youngest students the best start possible.”

The full report can be accessed here http://nieer.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/YB2016_StateofPreschool2.pdf or by visiting the NIEER website at http://nieer.org/.

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