Cumberland Times-News

Local News

June 24, 2013

Report: W.Va. 3-year-olds need preschool access

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s educational system ranks fourth-worst in the nation for the second straight year, and child-welfare advocates say lack of quality pre-kindergarten programs for 3-year-olds is partly to blame.

The annual KIDS COUNT report released Monday says nearly two-thirds of the state’s 3- and 4-year-olds weren’t enrolled in preschool programs in 2011.

It also says that 73 percent of fourth-graders weren’t proficient in reading, while 79 percent of eighth-graders weren’t proficient in math. And 22 percent of students didn’t graduate high school on time in the 2009-10 school year.

All of those measures are up slightly from the previous report, but KIDS COUNT still ranks West Virginia 47th overall in education. Joining it in the bottom five are Arizona, Mississippi, New Mexico and Nevada.

West Virginia does fare better in children’s health this year, moving up for 31st place to 27th. Fewer babies were born underweight, fewer children lacked health insurance and fewer teens abused drugs and alcohol during the latest survey period.

But the chronic problem of teenage pregnancy continued to grow.

The teen birth rate jumped from 43 per 1,000 teens to 45 per 1,000 teens — putting West Virginia 43rd among the 50 states. At the same time, the national teen birth rate fell 15 percent to a historic low.

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