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As Pre-K enrollment suffered across the country, Oklahoma kept access strong

Aaron Burden / Unsplash

Parents across the country were hesitant to send their 4-year-old children to school during the pandemic.

That’s borne out in enrollment numbers.

But in Oklahoma, there was some good news during the 2020-21 school year: The record losses in pre-kindergarten enrollment weren’t as bad as the rest of the country’s.

Roughly three-fourths of Oklahoma 4-year-olds attended pre-K in the 2020-21 school year.

That’s good enough for second in the country per the National Institute for Early Education Research’s state of pre-school rankings.

It’s an encouraging statistic, as the state made boosting early childhood enrollment a priority amid coronavirus-caused uncertainty.

But Oklahoma still has a long way to go and will have to make efforts to get more young children enrolled in school. That two-thirds enrollment rate - which outpaced much of the country - was also a 15-year low in the state.

Some other notes from the report that looked at early childhood education during the pandemic-ravaged school year.

  • 74% of Oklahoma 4-year-olds were enrolled in either public pre-kindergarten or federal Head Start programs.
  • Oklahoma preschools enrolled 38,450 preschoolers, a decrease of 4,233 from the prior year.
  • Oklahoma ranked No. 2 nationally for access for 4-year-olds for pre-kindergarten.
  • Oklahoma ranked No. 25 for state spending and No. 7 for overall spending (which includes federal and local monies).
  • State Spending Per Child Equaled $4,643 in 2020-2021, down $53 from 2019-2020, adjusted for inflation.
Robby Korth joined KOSU as its news director in November 2022.
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