“Exciting news about Maryland: not only did the state take the top spot in Education Week’s Quality Counts 2013 report, Maryland got especially high marks when it came to early care and education. Each year, the Quality Counts report card evaluates American education, assigning a grade and rank to each state and the District. “For 2013, the nation receives a C-plus when graded across the six distinct areas of policy and performance tracked by the report, marking a slight improvement since last year,” said Education Week.
This is the fifth year in a row that Maryland was named the top-ranked state. With an overall grade of B-plus (87.5), the state’s grades included an A (100) in early childhood education in the Transitions & Alignment category.
“Every year, there’s a challenge to sustain the big investment we’ve made in education,” Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley told The Washington Post. “But when you see the results and the greater numbers of kids graduating and taking AP courses and entering kindergarten ready to learn, those accomplishments make it a little easier to justify and defend the investment.”
Virginia ranked fourth in the country, with the overall grade B (82.9). The Commonwealth also received a score of 100 in early childhood education. DC ranked 45th, with an overall C-minus (71.5) and scored a B-minus (80) in early childhood education.
This news is particularly exciting for us at The Women’s Foundation because it further supports what we’ve long known: investments in early care and education (ECE) work. It’s telling that not only does Maryland score well in ECE, but the state received a high score (A-minus) in the college readiness category, too. By making sure that children have a high-quality educational foundation before they even begin elementary school, we’re setting them up to succeed beyond graduation.
In spite of these investments, access remains an issue. In our 2010 Portrait of Women & Girls in the Washington Metropolitan Area, we pointed out that just 14 percent of four-year-olds in Virginia, 35 percent in Maryland, and 40 percent in the District were enrolled in publicly-funded preschools. We also reported that high-quality preschools can be prohibitively expensive, especially for low-income single women raising children.
An affordable, high-quality early education helps lift families out of poverty and creates a more successful workforce for our region. Now that states like Maryland and Virginia have succeeded in creating good ECE programs, we need to make sure that every family has the opportunity to take advantage of them.
Image credit: edweek.org