Study: Oklahoma ranks third in nation for early childhood education programs

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WASHINGTON – Oklahoma is getting some national recognition today for its work regarding state-funded pre-school programs in a new study.

It shows Oklahoma is a leader in early childhood education.

A new study the National Institute for Early Childhood Research just released shows nationwide preschool enrollment has declined.

But not in Oklahoma.

Early childhood education isn’t required but many Oklahomans are jumping at the chance to get their child enrolled.

This map shows how many four year olds are in public pre-school programs for the 2012-2013 school year.

Only 28 percent of 4-year-old children nationwide were enrolled in public pre-school programs for the 2012-2013 school year.

However, if you look at Oklahoma you’ll see a much different story.

Between 70 to 80 percent of youngsters in our state are in preschool programs.

- National Institute for Early Childhood Research

– National Institute for Early Childhood Research

The study also shows our state is doing a lot to give us the competitive edge on early education development.

In 1998 Oklahoma became the second state in the nation to offer free admission to pre-k programs for 4-year-old students.

Since then enrollment rates have consistently increased to where it is today, No. 3 in the nation for 4-year-old children.

Oklahoma is just behind the District of Columbia and Florida.

That’s more than 40,000 Oklahoma 4-year-old children in school.

The Early Childhood 4-year-old student program uses money from the state.

Public school districts receive funding based on a per pupil rate using the age of the child and length of the program in a day.

In all, Oklahoma spent a little more than $7,500 per child enrolled last year through state, local and federal contributions.

Still this is a fairly new idea to some state; 10 states have no such program at all.

In fact no state requires preschoolers to attend school.

Some states universally offer it and others base eligibility on family income.

MORE: Click here to see the complete study

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