Early Childhood Education

Early Childhood Education is in the news now because the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) has released “The State of Preschool 2009,” a study that covers national trends, each state’s policies and programs, and a wide variety of charts. The report is free, and—along with the charts, as well as an interactive database—is available online, or you can receive a free printed copy by submitting your name and mailing address in an
email to NIEER

Findings include impact from the economic downturn: budget cuts and program eliminations even as more children became eligible for state-run preschool programs. But in addition, teacher and assistant teacher qualifications lagged, with upwards of twenty states failing to meet NIEER qualifications in each category.

Areas of overall improvement in Pre-Kindergarten programs include:

• in 2008–2009, 44 states met the benchmark for teachers having specialized training in Early Childhood Education, up from 29 states in 2002

• in 2008–2009, 47 states met the benchmark for Early Learning Standards, up from 14 in 2001–2002

• in 2008–2009 45 states met the benchmark for having a class size of 20 or lower and
the same number met the benchmark for having a teacher-student ratio of 1:10 or better

• in 2008–2009, there were also slight improvements in the number of states meeting benchmarks for assistants’ training and site visits.

However, some of the trends are not positive:

• the benchmark requiring the teacher to have a BA has remained at 26 states since 2006–2007, and is down from 27 states in 2004–2005

• the screening/referral benchmark held at 32 in 2008–2009, but had been 33 in 2006–2007

• the benchmark of serving at least one meal was at 22 states in 2001–2002, 2002–2003, and 2005–2006; 23 in 2004–2005 and 2006–2007; fell to 20 in 2007–2008; and crept up, but only to 21 in 2008–2009

For background on the history of Early Childhood Education, you may wish to read our article “Early Childhood Education.”