While state funding for the Colorado Preschool Program increased a bit last year, Colorado didn’t improve on measures of preschool quality or access, according to an annual ranking published by the National Institute for Early Education Research or NIEER.

Among the highlights from the NIEER “State of Preschool Report 2014” released Monday:

  • Colorado ranks 22nd among 41 states for four-year-old preschool access, the same as the previous year.
  • The state ranks ninth for three-year-old access, a slight improvement from its previous ranking at 10th.
  • When it comes to state spending on preschool, Colorado improved its rank from 37th to 35th.
  • The state met six of 10 benchmarks of preschool quality, the same number it met the year before.

Among the quality benchmarks Colorado failed to meet is one that would require early childhood teachers to have a bachelor’s degree and a second that would require assistant teachers to have a Child Development Associate.

A decade ago, Colorado achieved only four benchmarks on the quality checklist.

While Colorado got a small pat on the back from NIEER officials in a state-specific press release accompanying the report, it was far from a ringing endorsement.

“The actions seen here could be the first small step to improving quality and access for Colorado’s young children, but overall the state’s program remains well below average,” said NIEER director Steven Barnett.

NIEER 2015 Yearbook screen shot
Colorado’s ranking on preschool access and spending among the 41 states that have state-funded preschool.                Source: NIEER