Ohio’s state-funded preschool program received a less-than-sterling report card from the National Institute of Early Education Research (see our previous post). Ohio achieved a passing rating on only 2 of the 10 benchmarks against which the institute measures America’s state-funded preschool programs each year. Ohio met the institute’s quality standards for Preschoolhiring preschool teachers with specialized pre-kindergarten training and for providing screening, referral and support services. Compared to other states, Ohio ranked toward the low end of the middle of the pack. The ratings apply only to state-funded preschool programs and do not reflect on the high-quality preschool programs offered by private preschools like Horizon Education Centers.

Recession-driven budget cuts have had a considerable impact on Ohio’s ability to fund preschool education. Per-child funding, for example, has been cut in half since 2008. Budget cuts have also led to larger preschool class sizes and less than optimal staffing ratios. According to the institute’s report card, the average 3-year-old class size in Ohio was 24; 28 for 4-year-olds. Both exceeded the recommended maximum class size of 20 or lower. Ohio also exceeded the benchmark staff/child ratio of 1:10 with ratios of 1:12 for 3-year-olds and 1:14 for 4-year-olds.

Quality private Ohio preschools and pre-kindergarten programs understand the value of small classes and low staff/child ratios. Small classes allow teachers to focus more intensely on each child, interacting with each child more frequently and more extensively. Greater individual attention and smaller groups stimulate complex play and exploration and foster problem-solving skills and greater social interaction.