The State of Preschool 2017 Released by National Institute for Early Education Research
More than 20 percent of all preschool-aged children in the United States speak a language other than English at home, yet most state prekindergarten (preK) programs do not collect data on children’s home language, making it nearly impossible to design effective supports for young English learners*, according to a new report from the National Institute for Early Education Research.
The State of Preschool 2017 annual report, based on 2016-17 academic year data, is the only national report on state-funded preschool programs. This year’s report includes a special section on policies affecting dual language learners (DLLs, called ELs in some states).
Nationwide, more than 1.5 million children are enrolled in 60 state-funded preschools in a variety of settings. But instead of supporting quality early learning with adequate resources, most state programs invest too little to help children catch up with their more advantaged peers by kindergarten.
“We are continually striving to close achievement gaps, including those between children who speak a language other than English at home and children who speak only English,” said Ellen Frede, NIEER senior co-director. “We know the earlier we start with high-quality education programs the better.”
Six states with a high proportion of English learners in their populations also have high EL enrollment in state preschool: California, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico and Texas. These states also have policies supporting dual language learners in preschool.
However, several states with high populations of English learners – including Arizona, Florida and New York – cannot even report the home language of children enrolled in their state-funded preschool programs.
Research shows qualified teachers are key to providing the high-quality early learning experiences that can help prepare young children for kindergarten. Yet California, Illinois, and Texas are the only programs to require teachers to have bilingual certification.
“Due to the numbers of young DLLs, their learning outcomes have consequences for our future,” said Allison Friedman-Krauss, co-author of The State of Preschool 2017. “Our report shows few states have policies supporting the quality early learning experiences these children need to thrive in kindergarten and beyond.”
The State of Preschool 2017 yearbook was supported with funding provided by the Heising-Simons Foundation. Data used in the report come from a general survey funded by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The supplemental survey of state policies related to dual language learners and report was supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The findings, interpretations, and conclusions in this report are solely those of the authors. For more information and detailed state-by-state profiles on quality access, and funding, please visit nieer.org.
* Note: NIEER uses the term “Dual language learners” for children who speak a language other than English at home.
Image and article come from the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) Newsletter and The National Institute for Early Education Research.