Despite Value of Full-Day Pre-K, the State Only Funds Half-Day Programs

Research shows modest yet significantly improved short and long-term educational outcomes for students who attend public Pre-K.1 The more exposure a child has to educational instruction, the greater the educational gains will be. For children who are significantly behind, exposure to high-quality Pre-K for extended periods is crucial for closing the achievement gap.

Despite the value of full-day Pre-K, the state only funds half-day programs.

Out of the 1,051 districts that offer public Pre-K, 72 percent subsidize the second half of the day on their own. As a result, 54 percent of children are enrolled in a full-day program.2

In 2017, the state chose to eliminate the $118 million grant for High Quality Pre-K and $30 million in supplemental Pre-K funding from the two-year budget. With the funding cut, the Legislature also required all districts to implement the quality standards that were previously tied to grant funding. Schools are now left trying to meet higher Pre-K standards mandates with extra cost burdens and no additional state assistance.3 Investing in Pre-K sets young Texans up for higher graduation and college completion rates, and better academic performance all around.

1 Texas Education Agency (2017). Prekindergarten Outcomes for Texas Public School Students.

2 TPEIR Texas Public Prekindergarten Programs and Enrollment Ages 3 and 4 2016-2017, Texas Education Agency.

3 Center for Public Policy Priorities. (2017). Chance for Pre-K in the Special Session.

The Center for Public Policy Priorities produced this analysis in 2018, with support from the Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium (TEGAC).