LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas received a number-one ranking in a study listing the best states for early education.
The study, by WalletHub, ranked states by their support for and quality of pre-K education. Arkansas ranked at the top of the list based on access to pre-K across the state, as well as the quality of pre-K education. Key metrics in the study included the share of school districts that offer a pre-K program, the number of pre-K quality benchmarks met, and total reported spending per child enrolled in pre-K.
The score for Arkansas was a highest-in-the-study 74.66 total, with a four rank in the access category, a number-one rank in quality, and a rank of 16 in the resources and economic support category.
In comparison, Nebraska placed second to Arkansas with a 70.59 total score, from a 5, 2 and 24 in access, quality, and resources and economic support categories, respectively. District of Columbia placed number one in access resulting in a fourth-place overall ranking, and Oregon placed first in Resources and economic support for an overall rank of seven in the study.
Bottom-of-the-list was Indiana at a rank of 51 with a 20.9 score, ranking 51, 26 and 49 in access, quality and resources and economic support, respectively. Neighboring Missouri received a 49 score.
It is not all good news for Arkansas in the study. The state tied for third as the highest income requirement for state pre-K eligibility, joining Nevada, Arizona and Ohio. Total state Head Start program spending per child enrolled in preschool list also placed Arkansas among the lowest, tied for twelfth here with Tennessee, New Jersey, Arizona, North Dakota and California.
Pre-K education is important, not just in child development, but in providing better economics for the child’s state. Studies show graduating from a pre-K program better prepares a child for future education, with less risk of repeating grades and better ability to learn. One study shows that every dollar invested in a pre-K child’s education for disadvantaged families returns $7.30 in economic benefits. Another study reaches the conclusion that early education lowers the risk of criminal activity in the future.