If you’re looking for the best place to send your child to learn the three Rs — reading, writing, and arithmetic —there are some places that have a better early educational system than others.

Best and Worst

And with only 11 states currently offering universal pre-K education, a new report on 2023’s States with the Best & Worst Early Education Systems, offers parents better insight.

To determine the best early education systems in America, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 12 key metrics. The data set ranges from the share of school districts that offer a state pre-K program to the number of pre-K quality benchmarks met and total reported spending per child enrolled in pre-K.

Important Factors Influencing a Child’s Educational Development

“Some of the most important factors are family structure, home environment, nutrition, and economics. A child needs to bond with their parents, caregivers, and/or caring adults who can provide stable care in an environment that is safe and clean, who are not food insecure and practice good nutrition, and who have health insurance for everyone in the family. Parents or caregivers who value education, who are literate and active readers, who read to their children, and who expose their children to art, music, and appropriate play are also very important” Gina Anderson, Ed.D., associate dean, Texas Woman’s University said.

“A safe, nurturing home environment with supportive adults, responsive caregiving, social and emotional wellness, access to a quality education with qualified professionals, access to quality health and dental services, etc,” Alferma Giles, Ph.D., director, Texas Head Start State Collaboration Office; assistant director, Texas School Ready – (MS/PEDIATRICS-CLI), The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston said.

Improving School Systems Without Raising Taxes

“First of all, we need small class sizes! Children are individuals with individual needs and these cannot be met in a large class. This would not necessitate a tax increase; there are currently funds being used in less impactful ways than limiting class size. Children need lots of outdoor time and teachers should not be able to take away a child’s outdoor time for bad behavior, incomplete work, or any other reason. Fresh air and time in the outdoors are beneficial for all areas of a child’s development: physical, social/emotional, language, and cognitive development. Just as you would not take away a child’s lunch or bathroom break, outdoor time should not be taken away but should be protected. 15 minutes for recess after lunch is not enough- if a child is in a full-time program (7 hours a day), they should be outside for 1-2 hours and should get 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a day.

The outdoors should not be just anchored playground equipment but an extension of the indoor environment. Anything that can be learned inside can be learned outside, and often in more enjoyable ways. The outdoor environment should include different interest areas to foster child development in different developmental domains: there could be an art area, music, dramatic play (house, dolls, etc.), blocks or building materials, sand/water and sensory play, areas for gross motor play, a stage, a garden, areas for reading and natural materials,” Julia Kroeker, Ph.D., CFLE, professor, Florida SouthWestern State College said.

“States and policymakers can prioritize investment in public, neighborhood schools and reduce support for charter schools. They can eliminate support for school vouchers or education savings accounts. They can re-evaluate the purpose of standardized exams. These exams are very costly, and there is ample research and evidence that test scores should not be used for high-stakes decisions. With these savings, states, and policymakers can improve their school systems by supporting high-quality educator preparation programs in colleges of education. They can remove unnecessary financial burdens so that the cost of becoming a teacher attracts intelligent, caring, and diverse individuals. Finally, they can pay teachers a competitive salary that is not entirely merit-based,” Anderson added.

Education Spending a Measure of Education Quality

“Unfortunately, no. Funds are required to have a quality education program, but often, funds are used on things that do not have a direct impact on the children,”
Kroeker said.

“If and when the spending is geared to meet the most important needs of the children and the staff; otherwise, it is not!” Giles said.

For the full report, please visit here.

Source: WalletHub