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W.Va. tops in pre-kindergarten education

It’s the kind of educational ranking West Virginia officials actually don’t mind reading about.

That’s because the Mountain State just placed near the top in the nation, in being able to provide pre-kindergarten education to its youngest students.

West Virginia ranked sixth in those offerings to 4-year-olds, according to a recent study by the National Institute for Early Education Research, which is housed at Rutgers University.

The Mountain State came in just behind the District of Columbia, Florida, Oklahoma and Iowa in the study, which was released last week.

Hawaii was last on the list, among the 45 states currently offering pre-K.

As West Virginia continues to play academic catchup from the pandemic, early education, state Superintendent David Roach said, couldn’t be more critical.

“Research shows that high-quality early childhood programs have a positive impact on young children, both short- and long-term,” he said.

“We continue to focus our efforts on increasing enrollment by encouraging families to sign their children up for these early-learning programs,” the superintendent continued.

“It is a crucial step for a child’s development and academic growth.”

The Mountain State, in part, is bolstered by Head Start, the federal program introduced in 1964 to help economically disadvantaged families.

And Monongalia County’s school district, in turn, is shorn up by its proximity to WVU, the state’s flagship university — along with the academic generosity of local voters, who regularly pass an excess levy for education at the polls come election time.

Said levy brings $30 million or better to the district, enabling the district to offer beginning Mandarin in elementary school, plus a schedule full of Advanced Placement courses for the upper grades.

While the state does land near the bottom in several academic benchmarks — along with the general uphill trudges that can come from living here — Mon County is a consistent, academic bright spot, Donna Talerico said.

“We’ve had universal pre-K in the state for years,” Mon’s deputy schools superintendent told The Dominion Post previously.

“I don’t want to say we’re an outlier, but that’s what we are.”

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