Special Report
School & District Management

States Graded on Indicators for Early Years

By The Education Week Research Center — January 03, 2015 2 min read

Quality Counts 2015 features a new indicator called the Early Education Index. The measure, developed by the Education Week Research Center, complements the theme of this year’s report by drawing upon the most recent available information to assess levels of participation in early-education programs and services, as well as aspects of equity and enrollment trends from 2008 to 2013. The index incorporates the center’s original analysis of federal data on participation in preschool and kindergarten (public and private), with a particular focus on low-income families, enrollment in full-day programs, and trends over time. Also included is the percentage of low-income children who attend Head Start, the federally-funded preschool program for children from disadvantaged families.

The index grades states under a “best-in-class approach.” On each indicator, the top state receives 100 points. All other states are awarded points based on their performance relative to that state. A state’s overall index grade is calculated as the average of its scores across each of the eight indicators that comprise the Early Education Index.

Download Early Education Index

None of the states really aced this exam, and the nation as a whole barely passed, earning a D-plus. States also tended to perform inconsistently across the index’s eight indicators. In fact, the majority of states (29) ranked in the top 10 in the nation for some indicators but in the bottom 10 for others.

One of the reasons for this lackluster showing is that early childhood education is an elaborate patchwork of laws, institutions, and programs spanning the public and private sectors and varying dramatically across states.

With no states mandating preschool attendance, the center’s analysis finds that fewer than half of 3- and 4-year-olds attend preschool, and more than 40 percent of attendees are enrolled in private programs. By contrast, roughly 10 percent of elementary and secondary students attend private schools. The largest public preschool program, Head Start, targets low-income and at-risk children.

Kindergarten also operates in a policy and regulatory context distinct from the rest of elementary and secondary schooling. Only 15 states and the District of Columbia require children to enroll, according to an analysis by the Education Commission of the States. The Education Week Research Center finds that, while most eligible children do attend kindergarten (78 percent), a quarter of those kindergartners are enrolled in part-day programs.

Turning back to the Early Education Index, the District of Columbia ranked at the top of the nation, earning a B-plus, with a score of 89.5 out of 100. A longstanding publicly-funded program provides universal access. The District boasts the nation’s highest participation in preschool (76 percent).

At the other end of the scale, Idaho and Utah both earned grades of F. Despite their low overall showings, these states, like many others, exemplify the inconsistency of the early-childhood landscape. For example, Idaho, ranked next to last, has narrowed its smaller-than-average gap between poorer and more affluent pupils and has done so faster than all but a few states.

Events

School & District Management Live Event Education Week Leadership Symposium
Education Week's Premier Leadership Event for K12 School & District Leaders.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Law & Courts Webinar
The Future of Criminal Justice Reform: A Sphere Education Initiative Conversation
America’s criminal justice system is in crisis and calls for reform are dominating the national debate. Join Cato’s Sphere Education Initiative and Education Week for a webinar on criminal justice and policing featuring the nation’s
Content provided by Cato Institute
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Has COVID-19 Led to a Mass Exodus of Superintendents?
This year has been exhausting for superintendents. Some experts say they're seeing an unusually high number of resignations this spring.
5 min read
Chicago Public Schools Superintendent Janice K. Jackson, right, speaks on Feb. 11, 2021, during a news conference at the William H. Brown Elementary School in Chicago. In-person learning for students in pre-k and cluster programs began Thursday, since the district's agreement with the Chicago Teachers Union was reached.
Chicago Public Schools Superintendent Janice K. Jackson, right, announced earlier this week that she would depart the school system. Jackson, who assumed the superintendency in 2018, has worked for more than 20 years in CPS.
Shafkat Anowar
School & District Management Most Schools Offer at Least Some In-Person Classes, According to Feds' Latest Count
A majority of 4th and 8th graders had at least some in-person schooling by March, but inequities persisted.
3 min read
Image shows empty desks in a classroom.
Chris Ryan/OJO Images
School & District Management Opinion Education Researchers Should Think More About Educators: Notes From AERA
Steve Rees, founder of School Wise Press, posits AERA reflects a community of researchers too focused on what they find interesting.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School & District Management What the Research Says High Costs, Outdated Infrastructure Hinder Districts' Air-Quality Efforts
A national survey finds the pandemic has led districts to update schools' ventilation systems, but their options are limited.
3 min read
Mayor Bill de Blasio, center, checks the movement of a window inside a classroom at Bronx Collaborative High School, during a visit to review health safeguards in advance of schools reopening on Aug. 26, 2020, in New York.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, center, checks the movement of a window inside a classroom at Bronx Collaborative High School, during a visit to review health safeguards in advance of schools reopening earlier this school year.
Bebeto Matthews/AP