Early education affects more than what middle school a child will get into. One Harvard study from 2018 found quality early education programs correlate with lower placements in special education, less likelihood to be held back a grade and higher graduation rates. However, accessing the best early education is not equal across all 50 states. According to WalletHub’s recent ranking of the best and worst early education systems, New Jersey is the fourth best in the country.
The Garden State is only behind Arkansas, Nebraska, and Maryland. Three dimensions go into the score’s calculation including access, quality and resources and economic support. Each metric is further defined by relevant measurements such as reported spending per enrolled preschooler or requirement of school safety plans.
All these factor amount to a total score out of 100, though none got higher than a 77. New Jersey earned 70.67 points with the highest ranking in resources and economic support, snagging the number one spot. On the other hand, Indiana, Minnesota and Massachusetts are at the bottom of the list. None earned more than 35 points on the total scale and Indiana received only 22.27 points.
New Jersey placed ninth in quality and twelfth in access in addition to spending the most money per child enrolled in preschool among the states. The state is a long renowned leader in education and routinely ranks high for kindergarten, middle and high school systems. U.S. News & World Report named it the second-best state for overall education right behind Florida. Gov. Phil Murphy planned to increase education spending by $650 million during New Jersey’s 2023 budget proposal last March. This is part of a seven-year plan to gradually expand the budget for grades K-12.