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The Best and Worst States for Early Education – Find Out How Your State Ranks!

The first five years of a child’s life are the most critical to brain development. Well before children go to kindergarten achievement gaps have already developed but high quality kindergarten programs can ensure three and four year olds behind in development catch up to their peers.

High quality learning programs for three and four year olds have lasting effects especially on children from low income families and can  help reduce the cycle of poverty. So how is the US doing in terms of providing high quality early education? Mediocre at best.

The Childrens defense fund State of the Children in America 2014, a CDF publication has outlined among other things the best and worst states for early learning. The study shows that children enrolled in quality childhood programs are less likely to commit a crime.

No State has achieved an A grade in terms of outcomes but then again, no state has an overall F score either. The nation as a whole scores a C for outcomes

Best 10 states for Early Education in terms of outcomes

  1. Massachusetts
  2. New jersey
  3. Maryland
  4. Vermont
  5. New Hampshire
  6. Connecticut
  7. Wyoming
  8. Pennsylvania
  9. New York
  10. Minnesota

Bottom 10 states

41. California

42. South Carolina

43. Louisiana

44. Alabama

45. Idaho

46. Arizona

47. Oklahoma

48. New Mexico

49. Nevada

50. Mississippi

All 50 states were also ranked on level of participation based on enrollment. The nation earns a D+ and Idaho and Utah have failing grades.

Top 10 states in terms of enrollment in early education programs

  1. District of Columbia
  2. Hawaii
  3. Mississippi
  4. Louisiana
  5. North Dakota
  6. West Virginia
  7. Wyoming
  8. Iowa
  9. Arkansas
  10. Connecticut

Bottom 10 states

41. New Mexico

42. Indiana

43. Colorado

44. California

45. Oregon

46. Washington

47. Vermont

48. Nevada

49. Idaho

50. Utah

If you are thinking long term and are planning eventual progression to college, you should look at states with the best on time high school graduation rate. Click here for a full state-by-state ranking.

While these figures alone are not enough to tell the whole story, a lot goes into choosing the best place for you to raise your family.


What’s your view on the rankings for best and worst states for early childhood education?


first published at


Leah was born and raised in Kenya. She divides her time between article writing, blogging and creating original African pieces. She provides her writing services independently and can be found odesk. When she isn’t hunched over a computer, she’s out being inspired by nature.
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