Study gives Illinois high marks for early education system

(The Center Square) – A new study on the country’s early education systems gave Illinois high marks.

The personal finance website WalletHub looked at 12 key metrics to come up with the rankings, including the share of school districts that offer preschool programs and the total spending per child enrolled in preschool.

Illinois ranked 12th best in the country. The state scored well in the share of school districts that offer a preschool program and enrollment numbers. Illinois also fared well in the total state Head Start spending per child enrolled in preschool.

Analyst Jill Gonzalez believes if certain benchmarks are met, a taxpayer can determine if their tax dollars are being spent wisely on early education.

“Whether the teachers have at least a BA, or whether their assistant teachers have a CDA or an equivalent, the class size should be around 20,” Gonzalez said. “If these things aren’t happening in your district then you probably are not getting the best quality for your tax dollars.”

In July, five Illinois institutions of higher education received $1.3 million in grants from the Illinois Board of Higher Education to strengthen and diversify the early childhood workforce pipeline. The grants, funded by the federal Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five Initiative, were awarded in partnership with the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development. The funds will support an estimated 150 students.

According to the study, the District of Columbia, Nebraska and Maryland ranked at the top for having the best early education systems, while the bottom three were North Dakota, Missouri and Indiana.

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