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

/, Education, Texas Legislature/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.

At the Center for Public Policy Priorities, we believe in a Texas that offers everyone the chance to compete and succeed in life. We envision a Texas where everyone is healthy, well-educated, and financially secure. We want the best Texas - a proud state that sets the bar nationally by expanding opportunity for all. CPPP is an independent public policy organization that uses data and analysis to advocate for solutions that enable Texans of all backgrounds to reach their full potential. We dare Texas to be the best state for hard-working people and their families.

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