2022’s States with the Best & Worst Early Education Systems

By  | August 3, 2022 | Filed under: News

WASHINGTON, DC-While good elementary schools, high schools and colleges are important factors for parents to consider when choosing where to settle down, the availability of quality pre-K education is just as crucial. Unfortunately, pre-school enrollment dropped by nearly 300,000 students during the 2020-21 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which experts say erased a decade of progress and increased educational inequality. While pre-K age children are not yet eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the distribution of the vaccine in general has made the school environment safer to return to.

Children enrolled in early education programs are more likely to be academically prepared for future grades, as well as have higher graduation rates and higher earning potential than those who are not enrolled, according to the National Education Association. In addition, those who attend pre-K programs have been shown to have less risk of future crime than those who do not. Plus, one estimate shows that every dollar invested in early education programs for disadvantaged families may generate $7.30 in economic benefits due to its impact on helping children grow up to be healthier, higher-earning adults.

To help parents find the states with the best early education systems, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 12 key metrics, including share of school districts that offer a state pre-K program, number of pre-K quality benchmarks met and total reported spending per child enrolled in pre-K.

States with the Best & Worst Early Education Systems

Overall Rank  State Total Score  Access  Quality  Resources & Economic Support 
1 Arkansas 74.66 4 1 16
2 Nebraska 70.59 5 2 24
3 Maryland 69.85 14 2 6
4 District of Columbia 68.00 1 19 26
5 Rhode Island 63.45 27 6 2
6 Alabama 63.11 12 6 11
7 Oregon 61.32 13 20 1
8 Vermont 61.07 2 44 21
9 West Virginia 60.88 8 8 35
10 New Mexico 58.45 7 37 4
11 New Jersey 55.81 15 25 3
12 Oklahoma 55.76 9 37 10
13 Delaware 53.78 22 16 14
14 Tennessee 53.37 19 11 39
15 South Carolina 53.34 16 14 32
16 Louisiana 53.33 20 12 36
17 Illinois 52.54 6 42 23
18 Washington 51.22 24 21 13
19 Kentucky 51.12 17 13 46
20 Connecticut 50.62 23 15 29
21 Iowa 50.38 11 40 31
22 Virginia 49.98 48 4 28
23 Maine 48.69 18 37 20
24 Wisconsin 48.14 10 46 30
25 Texas 48.12 43 5 40
26 Hawaii 47.34 28 43 7
27 Utah 47.18 35 35 9
28 Kansas 46.41 3 49 33
29 Alaska 46.21 33 26 15
30 Ohio 45.23 29 17 43
31 Georgia 44.36 45 9 34
32 California 43.75 42 22 12
33 Mississippi 43.72 31 26 27
34 Arizona 42.76 25 24 50
35 North Carolina 42.52 47 9 37
36 Michigan 41.52 21 48 25
37 Nevada 41.34 50 17 5
38 Massachusetts 41.23 26 47 19
39 Pennsylvania 41.03 46 36 8
40 Colorado 40.95 44 23 22
41 Florida 40.05 40 26 38
42 Wyoming 39.06 32 26 41
43 South Dakota 38.79 34 26 41
44 New York 37.88 41 44 17
45 Idaho 37.11 39 26 44
46 Montana 36.97 36 26 47
47 New Hampshire 35.49 37 26 51
48 Minnesota 33.89 49 41 18
49 Missouri 29.29 38 50 45
50 North Dakota 29.23 30 51 48
51 Indiana 20.90 51 26 49

Note: With the exception of “Total Score,” all of the columns in the table above depict the relative rank of that state, where a rank of 1 represents the best conditions for that metric category.

Media Release/Diana Polk
WalletHub Communications Manager

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