While Rhode Island's publicly funded preschool program now serves just nine percent of four-year-olds in the state, the report shows that enrollment more than doubled from the 2015-16 academic year to the 2016-17 year.
The National Institute for Early Education Research released its annual State of Preschool report today.
States should choose a "date certain" by which they'll have a set percentage of young children in high-quality programming, and then work smoothly toward it, Barnett said. Those benchmarks are a minimum standard and include criteria such as having a class size of 20 or fewer students, having a teacher with a four-year college degree who also has specialized training in pre-K, holding appropriate training for teachers and staff, and having a ratio of not more than 10 children to every staff member.
NIEER announced Rhode Island's performance in the State of Preschool Yearbook, a national report on state-funded pre-kindergarten programs, with detailed information on enrollment, funding, teacher qualifications and other policies related to quality.
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However, Illinois' investment in pre-K programs grew by 25%.
In national rankings, the report listed IL as 22nd in access for 4-year-olds, 4th in access for 3-year-olds, and 26th in state spending per child.
Research has shown that high-quality preschool programs can boost academic achievement and lead to better life outcomes, like greater education and less incarceration.
"This is another victory for early childhood education in Rhode Island".
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"Rhode Island has improved on both the access and quality fronts when it comes to early childhood education". "We have more work to do, and I look forward to keeping the momentum going so that we can reach even more young people and get them on the right track".
Enrollment in state-funded preschools has doubled since 2002. It's been a big source of funding as her state expands the pre-K program it started four years ago, she added. In 2014, it received a federal preschool grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Forty-three states along with Washington, D.C., and Guam, provide preschool to more than 1.5 million children.
"We are thrilled that Rhode Island's State Pre-K Program is once again recognized as a national leader - one of just three in the nation to meet all of the quality benchmark standards set forth by NIEER". However, the report said, funding has failed to keep pace, with spending per child declining over the last several years. Rhode Island now has 60 classrooms in 11 communities, and enrollment has more than tripled since the 2014-2015 school year.
"Progress is patchy", said Allison Friedman-Krauss, co-author of the report. West Virginia is also one of 10 states with the highest number of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in preschool.
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