As a region, the South has become a national leader over the past decade in providing support for prekindergarten programs, says a new study by the Southern Education Foundation.
The Atlanta-based group calculates that 19 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds in the South are enrolled in state-funded prekindergarten programs—more than double the rate for non-Southern states. Two exceptions to that trend are Mississippi, which had no state prekindergarten program in place when the study was conducted in 2007, and Alabama, where such programs have small enrollments, according to the report.
It also notes that two-thirds of the states with the highest-quality standards for prekindergarten are in the South, and that nine Southern states fund prekindergarten programs above the national average cost per child. The region has more work to do, however, in ensuring that those quality standards are realized and building an infrastructure to sustain programs over time, the report says.
A version of this article appeared in the March 10, 2010 edition of Education Week as Preschool