The National Institute for Early Education Research released its annual State of Preschool report today.
The report found that more young children in the United States are enrolled in public pre-K programs than were in 2002, but that not all of those programs are preparing young learners for kindergarten.
West Virginia, though, is one of 10 states that the report said has both expanded access to pre-K while maintaining high quality standards. West Virginia is also one of 10 states with the highest number of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in preschool.
West Virginia is also one of 10 states that increased spending per child from 2002 to 2017. In 2002, the state spent nearly $5,000 per child and more than $6,500 in 2017. Pre-K is available to all West Virginia four-year-olds through the state's Universal Pre-K System.
Research shows that early childhood education can help prepare children for later academic success, but only if the programs are high-quality. Mark Shriver, CEO of Save the Children Action Network, said in a news release about the study that quality early-learning programs are among the most effective ways to break the cycle of poverty and ensure equal opportunity for all children.
Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Marshall Health, Charleston Area Medical Center and WVU Medicine.