Not surprisingly, the study found many states are seeing declining funding for preschool programs. The State of Preschool 2011: State Preschool Yearbook shows total state funding for the nation’s pre-K programs decreased by nearly $60 million from the previous year to the 2010-2011 school year. In the past 10 years, real spending on state pre-K has declined by about 15 percent, or more than $700 per child.
Washington’s state-funded preschool program is the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), which has been serving Washington preschoolers for 25 years. ECEAP serves 3- and 4-year-olds whose families’ incomes are at or below 110 percent of the federal poverty level ($24,585 for a family of four). Sixty four percent of ECEAP families are at or below annual incomes of $17,880 for a family of four.
Here is a breakdown of NIEER’s rankings for Washington:
- Washington meets nine out of 10 benchmarks for preschool education quality, up from six out of 10 in 2001-02. The one benchmark Washington does not meet is requiring a bachelor’s degree for the lead teacher in ECEAP programs. While 42 percent of ECEAP teachers have a bachelor’s or master’s degree, the current standard requires an Associate of Arts degree.
- For access to the state pre-K program, Washington ranked 31 out of 39 states that provide state-funded preschool programs: Just 8 percent of Washington’s 4-year-olds are enrolled in ECEAP.
- Washington ranked 7 out of 39 for spending on state-funded preschool: Per-child funding has fared better than other states in the past 10 years. Washington spent $6,780 per enrolled child in 2010-11.
- Washington spent $54.4 million on ECEAP in 2010-11.
“Washington’s program remains well-funded, dropping real per-child funding only slightly in 2010-2011, and the quality is there,” said Steve Barnett, director of the nonpartisan National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at
View NIEER’s report for 2011: http://nieer.org/yearbook
Read the Associated Press story about Washington's ranking.