The NCSL Blog

07

By Matt Weyer

Did you know that 3- and 4-year-olds who come from homes where a language other than English is spoken make up 23 percent of the overall 3- and 4-year-old population nationally?

Kids around tableWhat if I told you that fewer than half of states track enrollment for these students?

How about that preschool teacher salaries lag K-12 teacher salaries by $10,000 to $30,000 on average?

In addition to its annual comprehensive coverage of prekindergarten access, enrollment, funding and trends (since 2001), the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), led by Steve Barnett, added two new sections on dual language learners (DLLs) and workforce, providing some eye-opening statistics for state legislatures to consider.

Those statistics present both a challenge and an opportunity for state lawmakers. With limited state resources, Barnett suggested states should prioritize the biggest issues. “Determining exactly how big an issue these are for individual states is the first step. The second is acknowledging whether a state collects data [for example] on the number of DLLs enrolled [or workforce issues such as salary parity].”

Among the key takeaways from the report:

  • Barnett reiterated that high funding does not always go with high quality; as an example, Louisiana and Mississippi rank towards the bottom in per-pupil funding but scored near the top with regards to quality benchmarks.
  • The three states with the largest enrollment for this age group (California, Florida and Texas) rank relatively low in quality indicators.
  • New programs in Hawaii, Indiana and Mississippi began in the 2014-2015 school year.

Click here for all resources on the 2015 NIEER State of Preschool Yearbook. These include state-by-state comprehensive information including statistics and narratives.

Click here for archived information from the NCSL webinar featuring Steve Barnett, director of NIEER, including resources, presentation slides and audio recording.

For more information, check out the Early Learning and Support webpage for links to policy briefs, legislative tracking, research, resources and news articles relating to kindergarten through third grade education issues, and the Early Care and Education webpage for birth-prekindergarten coverage.

Matt Weyer is a policy specialist in NCSL’s Education Program.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.