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Michigan Sees Preschool spending, and enrollment Increases

June 9, 2017

LANSING – Michigan has become a leader in access and quality standards for 4-year-olds as steady investments in public preschool funding has helped the state rise to become 15th in the nation, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) announced today.

According to a national study, Michigan ranks 15th out of 44 states in access, serving nearly 34 percent of 4-year-olds. Nationwide, 32 percent of 4-year-olds, or 1.5 million children, were served by state-funded preschool programs, according to the 2016 State of Preschool Yearbook recently released by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).

“Governor Snyder and the state legislature have stepped up to make greater investments in early childhood education,” State Superintendent Brian Whiston said. “We all recognize that we need to serve more preschoolers in Michigan, to better prepare them for success when they enter elementary school. This is an important down payment on helping Michigan become a Top 10 education state in 10 years.”

The NIEER’s State of Preschool Yearbook is the only national report on state-funded preschool programs with detailed information on enrollment, funding, teacher qualifications, and other policies related to quality. The study’s Michigan profile is available at the NIEER's website.

Michigan’s Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) enrolled 38,771 4-year-olds in 2016, an increase of 1,659 children, or 4 percent, over the previous year. State preschool funding, meanwhile, rose eight percent to about $7.4 billion, a $550 million increase. Per child, state funding increased five percent to $4,967, exceeding pre-recession levels for the first time.

The GSRP is Michigan's state-funded preschool program for 4-year-old children with factors that may place them at risk of educational failure. The program is administered by the MDE’s Office of Great Start. Funding is provided to intermediate school districts to administer the program locally.

All GSRP providers must attain a three-star or higher rating in Michigan’s Great Start to Quality system.

“Early childhood education is a great investment,” said NIEER Director W. Steven Barnett. “We see Michigan making progress on quality standards, enrollment and funding. We encourage them to keep up the good work and expand access to provide the high-quality pre-K that can help children get the best possible start in life.”

Michigan ranks 15th nationally for access for the second straight year.

Additionally, Michigan earned nine of NIEER’s 10 quality standards benchmarks, meeting new requirements for early learning and development standards that are culturally sensitive, supported, and aligned with other state standards and child assessments. Michigan also met the new requirement for supports of curriculum implementation and continuous quality improvement system benchmarks. The state has not yet earned the 10th benchmark as current GSRP policies fall short of requiring individualized professional development plans for both lead and assistant teachers. MDE will be working to meet this benchmark in the future.

Current NIEER benchmarks are designed to help states build programs focusing on resources and policies related to the structural aspects of public pre-Kindergarten – elements needed for a high-quality program but not fully defining one.

This year, NIEER is introducing major revisions to the policy benchmarks for the first time since the Yearbook was launched in 2003. The new benchmarks raise the bar by focusing on policies that more directly support continuous improvement of classroom quality.

Decades of research shows that early childhood education can prepare children for greater success in elementary school and beyond, with the largest benefits for the most at-risk children – but only if education quality is high.