SEATTLE -- A new report card grading state preschool enrollment found Washington is below average in pre-K access for three-year-olds and four-year-olds.
The National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University released the study, which found nationwide pre-school enrollment declined.
"Our nation has emerged from the recession, but preschool-age children are being left to suffer its effects," said NIEER director Steve Barnett. "A year ago, our data showed a half-billion dollar cut in funding for state pre-K and stalled enrollment. For 2012-13, we find that enrollment is down and funding per child, while up slightly, remains stalled at near-historic lows."
Nationally, the report found 4,000 fewer kids attended state pre-K in 2012-2013 compared to the previous year. This is the first time total enrollment declined since NIEER started tracking the numbers in 2002.
In Washington, the pre-K program remained steady, but enrollment has not increased, according to the study. The report found the state spends $6,806 per child, which ranks 13th in the country.
Researchers commended the city of Seattle, which is working to improve access to pre-K.
"Seattle is also one of several large U.S. cities considering committing itself to providing access to quality pre-K program to all children," said Barnett.