Alabama First Class Pre-K ranked highest quality state program for 15th straight year

ALABAMA – Early education in Alabama continues to lead the pack.

Gov. Kay Ivey announced Monday that the state’s First Class Pre-K program was ranked the highest quality nationwide for the 15th straight year, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research.

The program has received more funding each year from the state’s Education Trust Fund since 2017, allowing more children across the state to receive early education – 37% of children age four are part of the state Pre-K program as of this school year, 2020-21.

Per state guidelines, all lead teachers in the program must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and the program provides a salary on par with K-3 teachers.

The 37% figure is better than the national average, as cited in the State of Preschool Yearbook. Nationwide, only one in three four-year-olds were enrolled nationwide as of the 2019-20 school year.

NIEER Founder and Senior Co-Director Steven Barnett, Ph.D, lauded the state’s continued investments in early childhood education.

“Alabama continues to be a national leader in high quality pre-K, even expanding access during the pandemic,” he said. “The state’s strong investment in teachers and continuous improvement will produce a lifetime of benefits for the state’s young children and its taxpayers.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.