Idaho pre-K enrollment: Consistent, and consistently low


Early childhood enrollment rates can vary widely from state to state and from year to year, according to a new national study.

But say this much for Idaho’s numbers: They’re remarkably consistent.

From 2007 to 2017, roughly two-thirds of Idaho’s 3- and 4-year-olds were not in a pre-kindergarten program. And consistently, Idaho’s early childhood enrollment rates ranked among the five lowest in the nation, according to research released this week by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The Baltimore-based foundation tracks pre-K enrollment as an indicator of childhood well-being. “Attending prekindergarten can help ensure kids are ready for school, with the highest-risk children accruing the greatest gains,” the group said this week.

Nationally, between 52 and 53 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds are not in a pre-K program, according to a decade’s worth of data. But the foundation also found that the trends can vary widely.

In the District of Columbia, for example, the non-enrollment number was 33 percent for the three-year period from 2007 to 2009. For the period from 2015 to 2017, that number was 25 percent.

On the other hand, Hawaii’s non-enrollment rate rose from 45 percent to 56 percent in the same period.

And Idaho? There were some fluctuations along the way, but the non-enrollment rate dropped only slightly, from 66 percent to 65 percent.

Idaho’s numbers should come as little surprise. Idaho is one of only four states that does not fund pre-K. Last month, the House Education Committee rejected a bill that would have created a voluntary, state-funded pre-K program.


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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