The National Institute for Early Research’s State of Preschool Report Reveals Increased State Funding to Arizona Pre-Kindergarten Program

Author: Michelle Boehm, Research and Evaluation Analyst, Helios Education Foundation

May 19, 2016

The nation continues to show steady progress in state-funded pre-kindergarten program enrollment, funding and quality since the Great Recession. At the same time, some states continue to lag behind others or have even shown regression.

Last week, the National Institute for Early Research released its annual State of Preschool report for the 2014-2015 school year. The report profiles state-funded preschool programs in the United States, including individual state rankings. While Arizona’s overall performance reveals room for improvement, progress in both funding and enrollment from the previous school year are encouraging.

Resources:  While state pre-K funding still falls below the national average, it has improved.

Ranked 32nd in the nation and up nine spots from the 2013-2014 school year, Arizona spent an average of $3413 per child in 2014-2015 - an increase of $1847 from the previous year (inflation adjusted). At the same time, this is still approximately $1000 less than the national average. Additionally, Arizona ranked 37th in the nation for all reported spending on pre-K (i.e., local, state, and federal funding), up 4 spots from the previous year.

Access: The relatively small percentage of eligible 3 and 4-year olds enrolled in state-funded pre-K indicates a need for increased access.

Arizona ranked 20th in the nation for pre-kindergarten access to 3-year-olds and 35th for 4-year-olds (3 and 6 percent of the eligible population, respectively). Arizona’s 3-year-old enrollment ranking jumped two spots from the previous year and fell one spot for 4-year-olds.

Quality:  Quality standards benchmark attainment remains stagnant with half of benchmarks reached.

Arizona met five of ten quality benchmarks for its state-funded pre-kindergarten programs. Areas for improvement include teacher training and credential requirements and meals and services provided.  Benchmarks met are designated in the table below:

Quality early childhood education is critical in a child’s development. Research indicates that children exposed to quality early learning environments are more likely to perform well academically, be more socially and emotionally well adjusted, and abstain from delinquent behavior and graduate from high school.1 By prioritizing early childhood education funding, access, and quality, the state of Arizona will increase student success across the education continuum and beyond.

Click here to see Arizona’s most recent State of Preschool report.

1 - Schweinhart, L. J., Montie, J., Xiang, Z., Barnett, W. S., Belfield, C. R., & Nores, M. (2005). The High/Scope Perry Preschool Study through age 40: Summary, conclusions, and frequently asked questions. Ypsilanti, MI: High/Scope Press. Retrieved from

Category: Early Childhood Education

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