Pre-K Gets Low Score, HB 4 Won’t Change That

Chandra Villanueva

The annually released rankings of state-supported Pre-K programs by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) once again show that Texas ranks last in quality standards measures compared to all other states with a public supported Pre-K program.[i]

Of the ten quality standards benchmarks identified by NIEER, Texas only meets two—comprehensive early learning standards and at least 15 hours per year of in-service training for Pre-K teachers. In contrast, Mississippi’s newly created state-sponsored Pre-K program meets all ten benchmarks.

Concerns about Pre-K quality in Texas are among the reasons that Governor Abbott made Pre-K an emergency item for the Legislature to tackle this session.

CPPP supports HB 4 as an important first step in improving Pre-K in Texas, but the bill does not go far enough to adequately support children.

Though HB 4 is designed to improve Pre-K quality, it will not improve our NIEER ranking because it makes no changes to the current Pre-K program, as opposed to requiring all Pre-K programs to meet higher standards, and providing the funds to do so. Instead, HB 4 creates an optional program that provides grant funding for only some districts choosing to implement limited quality improvements.

Pre-K in Texas will remain an emergency issue until it is accessible to all eligible students and all our school districts are held to the same quality standards.

[i] Forty states are included in the NIEER rankings. Mississippi also has a state funded Pre-K program, but it was not counted in the NIEER rankings because their newly created program has not been in place for a full year.
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