Year of Publication



Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Date Available


Degree Name

Master of Public Administration

Committee Chair

Annelise Russell

Executive Summary

Quality early childhood education is essential to ensure that children grow into well-adjusted, healthy, and happy adults. Early childhood is considered a child’s first five years before kindergarten, and nearly 90% of brain development occurs in these five short years (Brain Development, n.d.). According to the Kentucky Governor’s Office of Early Childhood, preschool attendance decreases the likelihood that the child will drop out of high school, be held back a grade, or be placed in special education (Importance of Early, n.d.). Not only does early childhood education benefit the child, but it can also positively influence society. Early childhood education decreases overall government spending on education, public assistance, and the criminal justice system (Importance of Early, n.d.). Working in partnership with The Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, our team from the Martin School of Public Policy and Administration worked to help identify what classroom requirements and mandates create a quality early childhood education program. We identified classroom requirements using the National Institute for Early Education Research's annual yearbook, collected state-level spending, poverty, and population data, and collected district-level kindergarten readiness data to determine how effective each state's practices are in preparing students for kindergarten. Our analysis showed that economic conditions, teacher training, and teacher-to-student ratio all influence kindergarten readiness scores with statistical significance. We recommend that Kentucky broaden access requirements to ensure more children can access pre-k programs regardless of income, supplement early childhood education spending with grants to support classroom costs and improve programs and mandate a certification or licensure program for lead teachers to increase the number of highly qualified educators across the state.



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