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Michigan's Early Childhood Program Among Tops in the Nation

October 5, 2020

LANSING – For the third straight year, Michigan has met all 10 quality standards for pre-kindergarten set forth by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), the Michigan Department of Education announced today.

“This is great news, and I am committed to continuing this hard work to ensure access to quality, affordable pre-K for all Michigan families,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “I have been focused on expanding pre-K for families that need it most since the beginning of my administration. I made it a priority in my last State of the State address because I know how crucial it is for Michiganders and for our economy. I am ready to work with leaders across state government and in the Michigan legislature to get it done.”

Michigan’s Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) serves over 37,000 children across 82 of the state’s 83 counties. GSRP is Michigan's state-funded preschool program for four-year-old children with challenges that may place them at risk of educational failure.

“Michigan’s Great Start Readiness Program is a successful early childhood education model that has tremendous value in preparing our children for academic success in school,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “Expansion of our nationally recognized early childhood program is one of the goals of the state’s new strategic education plan, a goal that recognizes the importance of getting children off to a strong start in school.”

Michigan is one of only four states nationally to meet all 10 NIEER standards for high-quality early childhood education. Those standards include:

  • Comprehensive, aligned, supported, and culturally sensitive early learning and development standards
  • Curriculum supports
  • Requirement of a bachelor’s degree for staff
  • Teacher specialized training
  • Assistant teacher degree
  • 16 hours of staff professional development per year
  • A maximum class size of 18
  • A staff-to-child ratio of 1:8 for four-year-old in the program
  • Vision, hearing, and health screenings
  • A consistent quality improvement system of structured classroom observations and use of data for program improvement.

Alabama, Mississippi, and Rhode Island joined Michigan as the four states nationally with the highest quality rating by NIEER. Last year, Alabama and Mississippi joined Michigan for this honor.

Research on preschool programs and specific research on GSRP indicate that children provided with a high-quality preschool experience show significant positive developmental differences when compared to children from the same backgrounds who do not attend a high-quality preschool program.

The National Institute for Early Education Research at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education in New Brunswick, N.J. supports early childhood education policy and practice through independent, objective research.