Florida stops rating preschools, but how does its pre-K program rate?

The state has put a hold on rating the preschool providers who deliver Florida’s Voluntary PreKindergarten program to thousands of 4-year-olds.  The full story on what went wrong is here.

But how does Florida’s program as a whole rate?

In its most recent state rankings for pre-school (2013-14), the National Institute for Early Education Research out of Rutgers University gave Florida mixed reviews:

No. 3 in access to 4-year-olds (D.C. and Vermont rated higher) – but  at the bottom for 3 –year-olds because they aren’t served.

No. 36 by state spending

No. 37 on overall spending (that includes other money sources including federal programs)

3 of 10 on quality.

The institute ranked states on access for 4-year-olds, 3-year-olds, how much the state spends on its program, and how it fares on a 10-item checklist of program quality. The checklist asks does a state set learning standards, require teachers with a degree or specialized training, sets maximum class sizes and what that maximum is, wat is the staff-to-child ratio and more.

Map from NIEER's 2014 State of Preschool Yearbook.
Map from NIEER’s 2014 State of Preschool Yearbook.

Top spenders were D.C. and New Jersey which invested more than $15,000 and $12,000 per student compared to Florida’s $2,200 that year. Florida’s per student spending has increased to $2,437 this year.

Florida was among six states to meet fewer than half of the 10 benchmarks. The others include California, Ohio, Vermont, Texas and Pennsylvania.

Florida got credit for setting early learning standards, having class sizes that topped out at 20 and conducting site visits to ensure the standards are met. The state does not require teachers to have a bachelor’s degree, require classroom assistants to have a child development certification or offer at least 15 hours of in-service training. In the 2013-14 school year, the state’s pre-k providers were not held to a staff-child ratio of 10:1 or better, required to screen for vision, hearing and health or required to offer at least one meal.




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