NIEER released data from The State of Preschool 2011: State Preschool Yearbook at a press conference at Bancroft Elementary School in Washington, D.C. on April 10, 2012. The report's findings include that for the second year in a row, state pre-K funding dropped, with detrimental effects on quality standards. Enrollment increased slightly, but varied greatly from state to state with two states--Florida and Oklahoma--serving more than 70 percent of their 4-year-olds while 11 states continue to offer no state-funded pre-K at all. Of the disparities seen in state pre-K, NIEER Director Steve Barnett noted, "quality varies just as much as quantity" with five states meeting all 10 of NIEER's quality standards benchmarks at the same time that three states met only 3 or fewer.
Also speaking at today's event was U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who said, "High-quality early learning is what we want for our own children so it must be what we want for everyone's children," contrasting that with the "inconsistent and piecemeal" efforts of states over the last decade. Referencing the federal government's Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge initiative, Secretary Duncan said, "Continued support is absolutely critical."