Young Learners, Missed Opportunities in Arkansas

How well is Arkansas serving its Black and Latino 3- and 4-year-olds?

Select any of the tabs below to get more specifics about different programs happening in the state.

Black 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled

37%

30%
45%

Latino 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled

28%

20%
37%
Arkansas

8/10

Quality Rating

Across the nation, far too few Black and Latino children attend a high-quality state-funded preschool

In a first-of-its-kind analysis examining race and ethnicity in state-funded preschool programs, The Education Trust found that only 1 percent of Latino children and 4 percent of Black children were enrolled in high-quality state preschool programs. The analysis, which examines data from 26 states where enrollment is reported by race and ethnicity, found that no state truly provided high-quality and high-access for Black and Latino 3- and 4-year-olds.

How well is Arkansas serving its Black and Latino 3- and 4-year-olds when compared to other states?

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Select one or more states from the list below. The first five states you select will be highlighted using different colors in the plot below.

What can Arkansas’ state leaders do to make state preschool programs more equitable?

Arkansas’s preschool program met 8 of 10 quality benchmarks, but served only 28% of its Latino children and 37% of its Black children. Arkansas’s state leaders should do the following to continue to invest in the quality of its preschool program and to increase meaningful access to its preschool program for Black and Latino children:

Prioritize expansion in underserved communities. While Arkansas should ensure access to high-quality ECE for all young children, it should prioritize expanded access in neighborhoods with the highest number or percentage of historically underserved children (including Black and Latino children) who are not currently enrolled in a high-quality program.

Spread the word to Black and Latino families. Arkansas should conduct substantial outreach using strategies to increase awareness of ECE programs such as providing outreach materials in multiple languages including Spanish, reducing paperwork, and engaging in community outreach.

Make enrollment easy. Arkansas should offer enrollment materials in multiple languages including Spanish, that take little time to complete, and that let families enroll online, by mail, and in person. Enrollment materials should not request information regarding citizenship status, immigration status, or work status of children or family members.

Offer hours and locations that align with the schedules and commutes of working families. Arkansas should align program hours with the most common work schedules for low-income families, including shift and seasonal work, and provide programs or wraparound child care. It should strategically locate programs at or near Arkansas’s largest work sites for Black and Latino families and prioritize public transit accessibility of ECE programs.

Meet quality benchmarks. Arkansas should continuously strive to improve quality. This will improve outcomes for all enrollees, including Black and Latino children. NIEER quality benchmarks are important minimum quality standards that all state programs should meet. Arkansas should also refer to other, more comprehensive quality standards such as the Head Start Program Performance Standards in order to provide high-quality, culturally and linguistically competent, developmentally appropriate preschool programs.

Eliminate suspensions and expulsions. Both of these practices disproportionately affect young children of color, and Arkansas should continue to replace these practices with evidence-based practices and the professional development necessary to implement them.

Support families. Arkansas should ensure that its state preschool program can connect families to support services, including mental health services, emergency crisis services, early intervention, home visiting, developmental assessment, and services facilitating seamless transitions into kindergarten.

Support dual language learners. Arkansas should offer dual language immersion preschool programs in Spanish (the state’s most common non-English spoken language), and prioritize access for dual language learners (children with a home language other than English who are developing their home language and English at the same time). Arkansas should invest in recruiting and retaining qualified, multilingual ECE staff and training educators in evidence-based dual language immersion models. Arkansas should provide all ECE staff, whether in dual language immersion programs or not, with professional development to meaningfully support families with a home language other than English even when staff do not speak families’ home language.

Diversify the workforce. All children benefit from diverse educators, and research shows that children of color and dual language learners especially benefit from teachers who are reflective of students’ cultural and linguistic diversity. People of color and multilingual people should be represented throughout the various roles within ECE programs, including administrators and lead teachers.

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How can ECE programs be improved to improve equity?

Read our analysis and recommendations for improving ECE programs in 26 states.

High-quality early childhood education (ECE) is essential to a strong, early start. Lifelong benefits associated with high-quality ECE include higher employment, better health and better cognitive and social-emotional skills. But systemic racism causes opportunity gaps for Black and Latino children starting in ECE programs. How can ECE programs be improved to improve equity and begin to counter systemic racism?

For more details on these recommendations, download the full report.

Additional State Data

The data used for this page comes from the National Institute for Early Education Research. See addtional data charts below from NIEER’s annual state profiles.

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