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West Virginia among top four in nation for providing early childhood education

West Virginia Press Association

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia has moved from 6th to 4th in the nation for preschool enrollment for 4-year-olds according to a recent report from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). The Mountain State improved its ranking from the previous year and has once again met 9 out of the 10 NIEER research-based quality benchmark standards.

Early childhood programs are vital to a child’s academic, social-emotional and developmental success. It remains a foundational pillar for educational achievement and infrastructure. The West Virginia Department of Education’s (WVDE) Universal Pre-K system provides programs in all 55 counties, serving all 4-year-olds as well as some 3-year-olds at no cost to families.

According to the 2023 State of Preschool Yearbook, West Virginia served 67% of the state’s 4-year-olds and 7% of 3-year-olds in state-funded preschool, increasing this year’s total enrollment to 13,731. State spending increased by $4,097,211 totaling $96,556,175 with an additional $289,520 in federal COVID-19 relief funds helping to support the program. Per child spending equaled $7,053 in 2022-2023, a slight increase from the previous year.

“West Virginia continues to be a leader in early childhood education, creating foundational learning opportunities for our most precious resources,” said State Superintendent of Schools Michele L. Blatt. “Early learning has a vast impact on the growth and development of our children and the future of the Mountain State. Access to pre-K education provides families and students an introduction to lifelong learning.”

Families are reminded that Universal Pre-K enrollment is open in the Mountain State in all 55 counties. More details about these free programs are listed on the WVDE’s Universal Pre-K website.

To learn more about the national report, visit the NIEER website.

For media inquiries, contact Christy Day, West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communications, at 304-558-2699 or [email protected].

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The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) conducts academic research to inform policy supporting high-quality, early education for all young children. Such education promotes the physical, cognitive and social development needed for children to succeed in school and later life. NIEER provides independent, research-based analysis and technical assistance to policymakers, journalists, researchers, and educators.

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