Map Reveals the Best & Worst States When It Comes to Early Education Systems

WalletHub

When buying a house, many people consider the education system ratings—aka how good the local elementary, middle and high schools are. However, it’s important to consider pre-K education as well.

Many parents might not see pre-K as that important when compared to higher education. Of course, as kids get older, that’s when they learn more—but that doesn’t mean that pre-K isn’t important. In fact, because kids take in so much when they’re so young, pre-K may even be more important that upper grades. Even attendance to pre-K at all can be crucial.

Science backs us up here. A study by the National Institute for Early Education Research found that students who attended pre-K full time perform better on math and literacy tests than those who only attend part-time pre-K. Additionally, kids who participate in pre-K programs are actually less likely to engage in crime in the future than those who don’t. Crazy, right?

Now that we’ve got your attention, check out which areas harbor the best pre-K programs around (and the worst). This list was determined by WalletHub, which compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across three key dimensions, “Access,” “Quality” and “Resources & Economic Support.” In total, there were 12 key metrics used to calculate the overall score and rank. 

Under “Access,” WalletHub considered factors such as the share of school districts that offer state pre-k programs, share of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in state pre-k programs, the share of 3- and 4-year olds enrolled in both pre-k and pre-k special education, and presence of waiting lists or frozen intake for child care assistance.

As for “Quality,” the states were ranked according to whether their pre-k quality benchmarks were met, the income requirement for state pre-k eligibility, and the requirement of school safety plans and audits.

“Resources & Economic Support” considered the total reported spending per child enrolled in preschool, the change in state spending per child, the total state head start program spending per child enrolled, and the monthly child care co-payment fees as share of family income.

Check out all the details below, including which states rank high and low!

Overall Rank  State Total Score  Access Quality Resources & Economic Support 
1 Arkansas 74.70 4 1 20
2 Nebraska 70.72 5 2 22
3 District of Columbia 68.11 2 19 23
4 Maryland 65.14 24 2 8
5 Alabama 63.23 14 6 10
6 Rhode Island 63.18 29 6 1
7 Vermont 63.12 1 46 18
8 West Virginia 62.31 8 8 32
9 New Jersey 57.69 12 25 2
10 Oregon 57.54 19 18 3
11 New Mexico 57.39 9 39 5
12 Oklahoma 55.75 6 39 16
13 Illinois 55.43 3 45 24
14 South Carolina 54.32 13 14 30
15 Kentucky 54.10 11 13 44
16 Washington 53.57 20 21 12
17 Connecticut 53.36 15 15 29
18 Louisiana 53.19 21 12 35
19 Wisconsin 53.16 7 42 27
20 Delaware 52.63 23 17 17
21 Iowa 51.68 10 38 26
22 Tennessee 51.67 22 11 50
23 Maine 50.94 16 39 14
24 Hawaii 50.69 25 26 6
25 Alaska 49.67 26 22 13
26 Michigan 49.47 17 26 25
27 Virginia 48.86 48 4 28
28 Texas 48.59 42 5 42
29 California 47.81 31 23 11
30 Georgia 45.73 45 9 33
31 Ohio 44.86 28 20 40
32 Utah 44.78 37 43 7
33 North Carolina 43.98 47 9 31
34 Arizona 42.53 27 36 49
35 Mississippi 42.46 30 26 36
36 Nevada 42.18 50 16 4
37 Colorado 42.11 41 24 21
38 Pennsylvania 41.80 46 37 9
39 Florida 40.99 35 26 37
40 Wyoming 39.23 32 26 38
41 South Dakota 38.97 34 26 38
42 New York 37.91 43 46 19
43 Montana 37.00 36 26 46
44 Idaho 36.39 40 26 43
45 Kansas 36.13 18 50 41
46 New Hampshire 35.57 38 26 51
47 Minnesota 34.04 49 44 15
48 Massachusetts 32.46 44 48 34
49 Missouri 30.35 39 49 45
50 North Dakota 28.64 33 51 47
51 Indiana 20.79 51 26 48