High quality pre-K improves achievement and closes achievement gaps. Children who attend high quality programs do better in school and have fewer referrals to special education, greater high school graduation and college-going rates, and lower teen parenting rates.
High quality pre-K also creates lifelong benefits. Former participants are more likely to be employed and own a home, and commit fewer crimes. Pre-K even generates high economic return for taxpayers, at least $5 for each $1 invested.
Closing achievement gaps must start early, with the skills and knowledge of children entering kindergarten and first grade. The Opportunity To Learn in high quality pre-K programs is the answer.
The States decide whether children have access to high quality pre-K. Visit “The States” from the navigation above on this website for each state’s Pre-K status.
Access and Quality Vary State-by-State
Despite well-documented benefits, the U.S. lags other developed nations in providing pre-K for its children. State-funded pre-K programs have blossomed in 38 states and Washington, DC in recent years. However, program quality, funding, and access vary tremendously from state to state, and not nearly enough children are served, in fact, less than 30% of three and four year olds.
Several state pre-K programs are high quality, but many are not, based on the National Institue for Early Education's ten widely accepted standards. Oklahoma and New Jersey offer high-quality programs with access for over 70% of four year olds in Oklahoma and almost 80% of three and four year olds in the “high needs” school districts in New Jersey.
Turning to the Courts
Plaintiffs are including pre-K claims in their demands for better educational opportunity, because powerful research shows that high quality pre-K prepares children to succeed in school and beyond. Plaintiffs make the case that disadvantaged students must have access to high quality pre-K for the state to meet its duty to provide a constitutionally acceptable system of education for all kids.
State-specific Pre-K information is available on individual state pages, accessible by clicking on the "State" tab at the top of this page. For general Pre-K information, please visit the Resources page.