Hawaii News

State ranks among best for quality Pre-K programs; however, near bottom for access

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A new national report has revealed that Hawaiʻi is one of just five states to meet 10 out of 10 research-based quality benchmarks for pre-kindergarten programs. However, it ranks 44th for enrollment of 4-year-olds and 31st for 3-year-olds.

Pre-kindergarten students at Island School in Līhuʻe participate in a field trip in March. (Photo from the Island School website)

The National Institute for Early Education Research released its 2023 State of Preschool report for the 2022-23 school year. The annual yearbook tracks preschool enrollment, funding and quality throughout the United States.

The report also shows:

  • Hawaiʻi served 4% of the state’s 4-year-olds and 1% of 3-year-olds in state-funded preschool, for a total enrollment of 704 (an increase of 155 from the prior year).
  • State spending totaled $7,516,239, up $140,914 (2%), since last year.
  • State spending per child equaled $10,676 in 2022-23, down $2,758 from 2021-22.

Despite Hawaiʻi being one of only 16 states and the District of Columbia committed to universal preschool for 4-year-olds, the state ranks near the bottom for preschool access. However, enrollment is poised to triple by the 2024-25 school year.


Since January 2023, Hawaiʻi Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke has spearheaded Ready Keiki, the state’s initiative for universal access to preschool. The program takes a mixed-delivery approach to expand the availability of pre-kindergarten desks throughout the islands.

“In just one year, we have created over 200 new preschool seats for our children,” said Luke. “As we continue to build on this progress and expand opportunities for our keiki, quality early education remains essential. That is why I’m grateful and proud of the charter and public preschools across our state for their continued commitment to preparing our keiki for kindergarten and their futures.”

The Executive Office on Early Learning, which supports early childhood care and education in Hawaiʻi, is also working in conjunction with the Office of the Lieutenant Governor and State Public Charter Schools Commission to continue bridging the gap for pre-kindergarten access in the state.



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