CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia is serving as a model for other states when it comes to preschool programs.

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), the Mountain State is ranked #6 nationally for pre-kindergarten enrollments among four-year-olds and #8 nationally for enrollments among three-year-olds.

“We see states that aren’t doing this and it’s great for West Virginia to be successful,” said Christine Campbell, president of the West Virginia American Federation of Teachers. To get to this point, “It’s been a long, ongoing process and the commitment and collaboration between the Legislature and the state board and county boards has really made this happen,” she said.

West Virginia’s universal pre-K program continues to meet eight of ten quality benchmarks the NIEER established and, according to the organization’s latest report, took additional steps forward when both pre-K instructional days per year along with instructional hours per week were added to during the 2012-2013 school year.

In all, records showed 62 percent of West Virginia’s four-year-olds are enrolled in preschool while the enrollment number is around nine percent for three-year-olds.

Nationally, the recession has hit preschool programs hard. The total state preschool enrollment declined by 4,000 students, across the country, during the 2012-2013 school year as more than half of the states with the programs made funding cuts attributed to the ongoing effects of the recession.

Forty states and the District of Columbia currently offer universal preschool programs.

In West Virginia, Campbell said state budget reductions in recent years have had little effect on the pre-kindergarten programs in West Virginia because they’re part of the school aid formula. However, Campbell admitted early childhood literacy efforts have taken a hit, though some of the reductions to funding were later restored.

“I think that’s why we have been so successful is because I believe that the Legislature and the public school system and private daycare facilities are committed to making sure that all children have access to quality education,” Campbell said.

The National Institute for Early Education Research is a non-partisan organization based at Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Education. It supports early childhood education policy through independent research.

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  • liberty4all

    If I am not mistaken there are studies that any benefits to universal pre-K are evaporated within the first few years of education (i.e. those without catch-up and/or exceed pre-K students by first couple of years of grade school). These studies seem to be supported by the fact that while WV has a large percentage of enrollment, we don't fare nearly as well on the finished product (high school graduates). Which leads me to believe that the education system will only be as good as the parents who are at home pushing their children to do well. I also am reminded of this everytime I hear how the kids need to be in school year round, etc . . . Some of us, with the help and encouragement of good parents (and a few with self-motivation of their own) managed o become intelligent, successful adults who can be proud of the public education.

  • Gary Karstens

    This is bad news for all of the neo-cons that say our government and education can't work efficiently. It can and it does!

    Hats off to the teachers and the teachers union for a job well done!

    • TLC

      Are you a real person? We have been leading the way in being in the system for years. Participation has not turned into success.
      Problem is we been failing the children for years.
      School choice is the best options.

    • The bookman

      It takes enrollment to have the opportunity for a positive result. It will take instruction, not daycare, to yield that result of increased reading proficiency by the end of kindergarten. Let's celebrate then!

      I know you're just trolling, but every once in a while, even the hardest nut cracks!

  • Woodchuck

    We still have the lowest reading skills.

  • David

    Yes WV leads the way nationally in indoctrinating children that the government is their daddy and mommy and knows best for them.

    Are they registering the kindergarten children to vote as well?

  • The bookman

    The preschool program is only as good as the teacher contracted to deliver instruction. All four of my children attended the four year old program, two in the public system and two in a private setting. The difference in experience relied on the engagement of the teacher. Where the program was viewed as daycare, that's what you got. Where the program was viewed as school, that's what you got. Preparing kids to read is the single most important thing we can do to promote success in the classroom. Setting those foundations as early as possible can never be a bad thing. I would like to see greater emphasis placed on the delivery of instruction, and less data collection and social intrusion into family activity. Overall it's a good program, just needs instructional improvements to be really beneficial.

  • steve davis

    We continue to march down the path that believes the younger children come under the control of the mother state, the better. Not only does this continue to add to the burden on the school system (not to mention the cost) but the stats just don't support the notion that turning our children over to state influence at increasingly younger ages is improving those children's performance in school. It doesn't work and it costs taxpayers a lot of money and still we continue. Why?

    • Hop'sHip

      It's NOT turning over children to state influence. There is plenty of evidence that it, if done well, can have lasting beneficial impact on children's lives, if you are not ideologically adversed to recognizing it. Read Bookie's comment above, no flaming liberal, he.

      • Jonesy

        My oldest son could read when he was 2-3 years old. He memorized the presidents before he was in kindergarten. He did not go to pre-school but we invested into him as parents. That is the real key. Parents should have primary responsibilty to teach their children with cooperation from the state; not the other way around.

  • wondering

    # 6 and # 8 leads the way nationally ?? what about 1 - 5 they don't count or what ?