More Arizona Kids In Pre-K Programs, But Still Behind National Average

By Carrie Jung
Published: Monday, May 11, 2015 - 3:19pm
Updated: Monday, May 11, 2015 - 7:18pm

A new report shows more children in Arizona participated in state pre-kindergarten programs last year. But Arizona still lags behind the national average.

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, about 7 percent of the state’s four-year-olds were enrolled in state pre-kindergarten programs in 2014. That’s up from just 3 percent in 2013.

Steve Barnett is the organization’s director. He said some kids here attend federal head-start programs, but when it comes to state-funded pre-K, Arizona ranks near the bottom in enrollment.

"The national average for 4-year-olds is 29 percent," Barnett said. "And some states like Oklahoma, Vermont and Florida enroll pretty much every 4-year-old."

Pre-K isn’t funded from the state budget here. The state programs that are offered are either private or squeezed into existing district budgets. State education officials hope a new $20 million grant will help them improve enrollment numbers.