Study from NIEER Ranks Indiana Last for Pre-K

The National Institute for Early Education Research                                            

Press Release



One of only eleven states lacking state pre-K

Lack of Availability in High-Quality Programs Could Threaten Nation’s Future Job Prospects; New Cuts Proposed in a Number of States

Washington, D.C. — Indiana remains one of the few states not committed to state-funded pre-K as an education reform strategy while many states maintain high-quality program efforts amid weak economic times, says a landmark national report capping 10 years of research.

The State of Preschool 2011: State Preschool Yearbook showsIndiana is one of 11 states where 3- and 4-year olds had no access to state-funded preschool in 2010-2011. During the past decade, national enrollment has nearly doubled on state-funded pre-K, often established as public-private partnerships. In 2010-2011, there were 51 state pre-K programs operating across 39 states plus two programs inWashington,DC, up from 42 programs in 37 states a decade before.

“The national picture is sobering. For the second year in a row, we’re seeing declines in real spending and per-child spending that strip resources from pre-K classrooms, but we’ve also seen states begin state-funded pre-K recognizing the research on pre-K’s proven benefits and cost-savings. Although states are struggling with budgets, there remains bipartisan support for preserving, if not expanding, high-quality early education.” said Steve Barnett, director of the nonpartisan National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) atRutgersUniversitythat has surveyed state preschool programs on a number of measures since 2001-2002.  “Some states such asIndianahave yet to get out of the starting gate with pre-K, however.  We applaud the Governor’s support for increased funding to full-day kindergarten butIndiananeeds to extend its commitment to include pre-K.  Research confirms time and time again that high-quality early education is a proven approach for narrowing the achievement gap that appears even before the first day of kindergarten.”

The 2011 State Preschool Yearbook shows total state funding for the nation’s pre-K programs decreased by nearly $60 million from the previous year to the 2010-2011 school year. In the past 10 years, real spending on state pre-K has declined by about 15 percent, or more than $700 per child.

“A decline of this magnitude should serve as a national wake-up call for parents and policy leaders about how well we are preparing today’s preschoolers to succeed in school and later find good jobs in a competitive market,” Barnett said.

The Yearbook findings, which include NIEER’s data over the past 10 years and recommendations for policymakers, are being released today at 10 a.m. at Bancroft Elementary School in Washington, D.C. U.S Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will join Barnett at today’s event.

Despite a decade of progress in which many states began or improved pre-K programs, state investments in high-quality pre-K are now slipping. In fact, many children who need access to high-quality pre-K programs still cannot attend.

Twenty-eight percent of all 4-year-olds and 4 percent of 3-year-olds were served by state pre-K programs in the 2010-2011 school year, raising total enrollment to more than 1.3 million. But some states have opted to expand enrollment rather than maintain quality, resulting in greater access but lower standards. “If ignored, states run the risk of substituting inexpensive child care for preschool education,” Barnett said.

“States need to plan for future growth in pre-K just as they would for major projects, such as infrastructure,” said Barnett, “and avoid viewing pre-K as a year-to-year funding decision.” He praised the federal $500 million Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge that is providing grants to nine states for improving quality, but said more needs to be done. President Obama has called on Congress to increase the federal commitment to states for early childhood education.

State pre-K generally has enjoyed bipartisan support during its expansion over the past decade. An overwhelming body of research shows that high-quality pre-K prepares children to succeed in school, enroll in college or career training, and helps more students ultimately get better jobs that can help the nation’s economy. This year’s report highlights national trends in pre-K programs over past 10 years.

The National Institute for Early Education Research (, a unit of the Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, supports early childhood education policy by providing objective, nonpartisan information based on research.

73 Easton Avenue     •     New Brunswick, NJ 08901     •      Phone 848.932.4350     •     Fax 732.932.4360     •                                                                                          

CONTACT:  Jen Fitzgerald                                                                                  

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  Alan Richard

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