Pre-K (What Exactly Is It) (page 2)

— National Association for the Education of Young Children
Updated on Nov 12, 2009

What else do we know about statefunded pre-Ks?

States implement and deliver pre-K programs in many different ways. Currently 38 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia offer some level of pre-K programs (Barnett, Hustedt, et al. 2007). The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) has developed a 10-point quality standard checklist for evaluating pre-K programs: 

1. Comprehensive early learning standards

2. Lead teacher must have a BA degree

3. Lead teacher must have a specialization in early childhood education

4. Assistant teachers must have a CDA equivalent

5. Teachers must complete at least 15 hours of in-service training each year

6. Maximum class size of 20

7. Staff-child ratio of 1:10 or better

8. Vision, hearing, and health screening and referral are required, along with at least one family support service

9. At least one meal per day is offered

10. Required site visits by state monitors

In 2007, NIEER found that the pre-K programs in two states—Alabama and North Carolina—met all of the quality benchmarks, and the pre-K programs in eight other states (Arkansas, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington) met nine of the 10 benchmarks.

What does this mean for you?

All preschool educators can be advocates for establishing or expanding funding for pre-K programs. If you live in one of the 12 states that have not yet launched a pre-K initiative, you can rally support. In most states, advocacy groups lobby state legislators to increase state funding of pre-K programs. Many state and local affiliate groups (AEYCs) include funding for high-quality pre-K in their policy advocacy agendas. It is an exciting time in American public education. The pre-K movement is applying what we know about the effects of high-quality preschool education to support and enhance young children's development.


For more information . . .

Does your state have a pre-K program? If so, you may want to find out the following.

• What does your state spend per child in pre-K?

• What qualifications do teachers need for pre-K?

• Does your state pre-K program serve 3-and 4-year-olds or just 4-year-olds?

You can find answers to these and other questions in NIEER’s State Preschool Yearbook at

This article is part of the Teaching Young Children (link to magazine from NAEYC."


Barnett, W.S., J.T. Hustedt, A.H. Friedman, J.S. Boyd, & P. Ainsworth. 2007. The state of preschool 2007: State preschool yearbook. New Brunswick, NJ: National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). http://nieer. org/yearbook/pdf/yearbook.pdf.

Barnett, W.S., K. Jung, V. Wong, T. Cook, & C. Lamy. 2007. Effects of five state prekindergarten programs on early learning. New Brunswick, NJ: National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).

Gilliam, W.S. 2005. The National Prekindergarten Study: Early results. Presentation for the the Pre[k]now Teleconference.  documents/nationalcalls/200509_WGilliam_pres.pdf.

Gormley, W.M. Jr., D. Phillips, & T. Gayer. 2008. Preschool programs can boost school readiness. Science 320: 1723–24. 

Hustedt, J.T., W.S. Barnett, K. Jung, & A. Figueras. 2008. Impacts of New Mexico PreK on children’s school readiness at kindergarten entry: Results from the second year of a growing initiative. National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) report. NewMexicoRDD0608.pdf.









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