The District has the highest share of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in pre-kindergarten, pre-kindergarten special education and Head Start of any city in the country.
Further, no other city in the nation spends more per child enrolled in preschool than the District of Columbia, according to a new study released by District-based financial website WalletHub.
While good elementary schools, high schools and colleges are important factors for parents to consider when choosing where to settle down, the availability of quality pre-K education is just as crucial, WalletHub officials said.
They pointed to a study by the National Institute for Early Education Research which revealed that students enrolled in full-day pre-K programs do better on math and literacy tests than their peers who attend only partial day preschool.
Also, those who attend pre-K programs have been shown to have less risk of future crime than those who do not.
Pre-K programs also may generate billions of dollars for the economy over a few decades, due to lessening the need for social services and creating more productive citizens, according to WalletHub, which compared the 50 states and the District across 12 key metrics, including share of school districts that offer a state pre-K program, number of pre-K quality benchmarks met and total reported spending per child enrolled in pre-K.
Nebraska finished just ahead of D.C. for having the best early education systems. Maryland, Vermont and Arkansas rounded out the top five.
Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Massachusetts made up the bottom five.
Virginia ranked 22nd overall, but was recognized with a high-quality ranking.
“I believe that parents being involved in their child’s education is essential – academically, socially and culturally,” Ann Hilliard, a WalletHub expert and associate professor at Bowie State University, said when asked about the most important factors that influence a child’s educational development. “Parents need to always stress the importance of listening, learning, observing, being respectful toward others and being engaged in one’s own learning.”
“Today, parents need to infuse the use of digital tools as an educational resource in expanding their child’s education, but always monitoring how the digital tools are being used as frequently as possible in a positive manner,” she said.
When asked whether education spending is a direct measure of education quality, Hilliard said, based on data from various sources, too many situations in education spending do not frequently measure education quality.
“Education quality is the mastery of skills at the secondary and college completion level,” Hilliard said. “Students are productive citizens and moving into adulthood should be able to demonstrate skill and knowledge mastery for available jobs in the marketplace.
“Education quality should show too, that these young adults are capable of solving simple and complex problems numerically and in a narrative and collaborative manner,” she said. “Today, the young adult is able to be a part of an effective learning generation by showing an interest in continuous learning, being flexible and adaptable to new experiences in the marketplace.”