The National Institute for Early Research’s State of Preschool Report Shows Highs and Lows of Florida State-Funded Pre-Kindergarten Program

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

May 24, 2016

The nation continues to show steady progress in state-funded pre-kindergarten 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 Florida led the nation in state pre-kindergarten enrollment, its relatively low rankings in both quality and spending highlight areas of significant need.

Resources:  Pre-K state funding declined from the previous year, with Florida ranking in the bottom quartile.

Ranked 39th in the nation and down three spots from the 2013-2014 school year, Florida spent an average of $2304 per child in 2014-2015 - an increase of only $32 from the previous year (inflation adjusted). This was over $2000 less than the national average. Additionally, Florida ranked 41st in the nation for all reported spending on pre-K (i.e., local, state, and federal funding), down 4 spots from the previous year.

Access: Florida led the nation in pre-kindergarten access to 4 year olds.

Florida ranked 3rd in the nation in pre-kindergarten access for 4-year-olds, serving 76% of eligible children. While this is a bright spot, Florida does not provide state-funded pre-kindergarten to 3-year-olds.

Quality:  Only 30% of quality benchmarks were attained.
Florida met only three of ten quality benchmarks for its pre-kindergarten program. Areas for improvement include teacher training and credential requirements, staff-child classroom ratios, and meals and services provided.  Benchmarks met are designated in the table below:

Helios Education Foundation believes that every student, regardless of zip code, deserves a high-quality education and that access to a high-quality early learning environment is foundational in a child’s development. With a large number of 3- and 4-year-olds living in poverty, the condition of Florida’s pre-kindergarten programs underscore the dire need to address both quality and spending through policy and program improvement. By prioritizing early childhood education, Florida will increase student success in school and beyond.

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

Category: Early Childhood Education

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