Today, WalletHub released its findings comparing 50 states and the District of Columbia across 12 key metrics, including share of school districts that offer a state pre-K program, number of pre-k quality benchmarks met and total reported spending per child enrolled in pre-K. While Pennsylvania ranked third best for resources and economic support, it came in at 40 for quality and 46 for access.
The study’s evaluation of resources and economic support includes the total reported spending per child enrolled in preschool; Pennsylvania has the third-highest spending per child enrolled in pre-K. It also evaluated the change in spending per child enrolled in preschool, the total Head Start program spending per child enrolled in preschool, and the monthly child care co-payment fees as a share of family income. Only Alaska and Rhode Island ranked higher in the “Best Resources and Economic Support” category than Pennsylvania, at 1 and 2 respectively.
To rank states on the quality of their preschool programs, WalletHub looked at quality benchmarks attained, including early learning and development standards; curriculum support; teacher and assistant teacher qualifications; staff professional development; class size; staff-child ratio; the availability of vision, hearing and health screenings and referrals; and continuous quality improvement systems. It also evaluated the income requirement for state pre-K eligibility and the requirements of school safety plans and audits.
Virginia, Arizona, Minnesota, Mississippi and Indiana were the only states ranked lower that Pennsylvania in accessibility. In evaluating this category, WalletHub looked at the share of school districts that offer state pre-K programs, the share of 3 and 4 year olds enrolled in pre-K, pre-K special education and Head Start programs, and the presence of waiting lists or frozen intake for child care assistance. The District of Columbia ranked first in the category, with Vermont, Illinois, Nebraska and Wisconsin rounding out the top 5.
See the WalletHub report here.
Since 2014, the nonpartisan group Pre-K for PA has advocated for state funding directed to pre-K education. This year, it sought a $50 million increase in the 2019-20 state budget: $40 million for Pre-K Counts and $10 million for the Head Start Supplemental Assistance Program (HSSAP). On May 28, 2019, Governor Wolf signed a $34 billion general spending bill that included $25 million for Pre-K Counts and $5 million for HSSAP.