Preschool Education

High-quality early learning programs have been shown to boost educational outcomes for children, reduce rates of incarceration and lower health-care costs, according to research from economist James Heckman, winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

CSG Midwest
Over the next two years, Indiana will invest an additional $20 million in a pilot initiative that provides low-income families with access to pre-kindergarten programs. First established in 2014, On My Way Pre-K currently serves nearly 2,300 students in five counties.
Additional state dollars will expand the initiative’s reach to 15 more counties. To participate, students must be 4 years old and reside in a family at or below 127 percent of the federal poverty level. (For the original five counties, the income thresholds could be loosened.) The state also will provide funding for in-home, online early-childhood education in parts of the state that lack high-quality providers.

Early childhood education has received increasing amounts of support in recent years. Why? Research indicates that quality early childhood education can lead to significant improvements down the road.

CSG Midwest
Thousands of 4-year-olds in Minnesota are attending prekindergarten classes this fall as the result of a $25 million investment made by the Legislature. With this money, the state targets aid for school districts and charter schools that serve high numbers of low-income students as well as areas with limited access to high-quality prekindergarten programs.
CSG Midwest
Starting in 2017, the state of Nebraska will begin offering up to $5 million in tiered tax credits annually to early-childhood programs and their employees — the first Midwestern state, and just the second U.S. state, to do so. Under the School Readiness Tax Credit Act (LB 889, passed earlier this year), which is linked to a quality rating and improvement system created three years ago by the Unicameral Legislature, providers receive incentives based on their quality rating, while eligible employees can claim credits based on education levels, training and work history.
CSG Midwest

One of the more notable trends in state policy over the past decade has been the increased legislative activity and investment around early childhood education. In the Midwest, countless laws and programs (some new, some long-standing) are now in place, from “Preschool for All” in Illinois to “Gearing Up for Kindergarten” in North Dakota.

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The US Department of Education has issued a report highlighting the stark contrast between the value early childhood education offers to the nation’s children, and the relatively low wages early childhood educators receive for their work, which can make attracting and retaining high quality teachers a challenge.

As states look to trim budgets and focus on programs that have proven results, early childhood programs have shown high return on the investment of taxpayer dollars on long-term nonacademic indicators.

Transitioning to the Every Student Succeeds Act

The Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and replaces the No Child Left Behind Act, or NCLB, is the product of bipartisan efforts in Congress to give states greater control of accountability and academic standards. State officials are closely watching as the U.S. Department of Education releases more information on what the new act changes in...

CSG Director of Education Policy Pam Goins outlines the top five issues in education policy for 2015, including school readiness, experiential and work-based learning, academic success for at-risk populations, innovative state accountability systems, and advance attainment of degrees, certificates and other high-quality credentials. 

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