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Indicators

Preschool and Kindergarten Enrollment
(Last Updated: February 2019)

In 2017, the percentage of 3- to 5-year-olds enrolled in preschool programs was higher for children whose parents’ highest level of education was a graduate or professional degree (46 percent) or a bachelor’s degree (47 percent) than for children whose parents’ highest level of education was an associate’s degree (36 percent), some college but no degree (34 percent), a high school credential (33 percent), or less than a high school credential (26 percent).

Preprimary programs, which include kindergarten and preschool programs,1 are groups or classes that are organized to provide educational experiences for children. Child care programs that are not primarily designed to provide educational experiences, such as daycare programs, are not included in preprimary programs.


Figure 1. Percentage of 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old children enrolled in preprimary programs: 2000 through 2017

Figure 1. Percentage of 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old children enrolled in preprimary programs: 2000 through 2017


NOTE: “Preprimary programs” are groups or classes that are organized to provide educational experiences for children and include kindergarten, preschool, and nursery school programs. Enrollment data for 5-year-olds include only those students in preprimary programs. Data are based on sample surveys of the civilian noninstitutionalized population.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October 2000 through 2017. See Digest of Education Statistics 2006, table 41; Digest of Education Statistics 2009, table 43; Digest of Education Statistics 2011, table 53; and Digest of Education Statistics 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, table 202.10.


In 2017, the percentage of children enrolled in preprimary programs was higher for 5-year-olds (86 percent) than for 4-year-olds (68 percent), and higher for 4-year-olds than for 3-year-olds (40 percent). The preprimary enrollment percentages for 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds in 2017 were not measurably different from the respective percentages in 2000.


Figure 2. Percentage of 3- to 5-year-old children in preschool and kindergarten programs attending full-day programs: 2000 through 2017

Figure 2. Percentage of 3- to 5-year-old children in preschool and kindergarten programs attending full-day programs: 2000 through 2017


NOTE: Enrollment data for 5-year-olds include only those children in preschool and kindergarten programs. Data are based on sample surveys of the civilian noninstitutionalized population.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October 2000 through 2017. See Digest of Education Statistics 2006, table 41; Digest of Education Statistics 2009, table 43; Digest of Education Statistics 2011, table 53; and Digest of Education Statistics 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, table 202.10.


Among 3- to 5-year-olds who were enrolled in preschool programs, the percentage attending full-day programs increased from 47 percent in 2000 to 56 percent in 2017. Similarly, among 3- to 5-year-olds attending kindergarten, the percentage attending full-day programs increased from 60 percent in 2000 to 79 percent in 2017. In every year from 2000 to 2017, the percentage of kindergarten students enrolled in full-day programs was higher than the percentage of preschool students enrolled in full-day programs.


Figure 3. Percentage of 3- to 5-year-old children enrolled in preschool programs, by race/ethnicity and attendance status: October 2017

Figure 3. Percentage of 3- to 5-year-old children enrolled in preschool programs, by race/ethnicity and attendance status: October 2017


! Interpret data with caution. The coefficient of variation (CV) for this estimate is between 30 and 50 percent.
1 Reporting standards for Pacific Islander children were not met; therefore, data for this group are not shown in the figure. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity.
NOTE: Enrollment data include only those children in preschool programs and do not include those enrolled in kindergarten or primary programs. Data are based on sample surveys of the civilian noninstitutionalized population. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October 2017. See Digest of Education Statistics 2018, table 202.20.


In 2017, the percentage of 3- to 5-year-olds enrolled in preschool programs was higher for Black children (43 percent), White children (41 percent), and children of Two or more races (41 percent) than for Hispanic children (31 percent). The preschool enrollment rates of 3- to 5-year-olds who were Asian (35 percent) and American Indian/Alaska Native (34 percent) were not measurably different from the preschool enrollment rates of children from other racial/ethnic groups.

In terms of attendance status, a higher percentage of Black 3- to 5-year-olds attended full-day preschool programs than attended part-day programs (32 vs. 11 percent) in 2017. A similar pattern was observed for children of Two or more races (25 percent for full-day programs vs. 16 percent for part-day programs). For children in the other racial/ethnic groups, there were no measurable differences between the percentages enrolled in full-day programs and the percentages enrolled in part-day programs. Enrollment in full-day preschool programs was higher for Black children (32 percent) than for White (22 percent), Asian (18 percent), and Hispanic (16 percent) children. The full-day preschool enrollment rate of 3- to 5-year-olds was also higher for White children and children of Two or more races (25 percent) than for Hispanic children. The percentage of American Indian/Alaska Native 3- to 5-year-olds who attended full-day preschool programs (23 percent) was not measurably different from the percentages of children of other racial/ethnic groups attending these programs.


Figure 4. Percentage of 3- to 5-year-old children enrolled in preschool programs, by parents’ highest level of education and attendance status: October 2017

Figure 4. Percentage of 3- to 5-year-old children enrolled in preschool programs, by parents’ highest level of education and attendance status: October 2017


1 Includes completing high school through equivalency credentials, such as the GED.
NOTE: Enrollment data include only those children in preschool programs and do not include those enrolled in kindergarten or primary programs. “Parents’ highest level of education” is defined as the highest level of education attained by either parent in the child’s household. Data are based on sample surveys of the civilian noninstitutionalized population. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded data. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (CPS), October 2017. See Digest of Education Statistics 2018, table 202.20.


Enrollment in preschool programs varied by parents’ highest level of education, defined as the highest level of education attained by either parent in the child’s household. In 2017, the percentage of 3- to 5-year-olds enrolled in preschool programs was higher for children whose parents’ highest level of education was a graduate or professional degree (46 percent) or a bachelor’s degree (47 percent) than for children whose parents’ highest level of education was an associate’s degree (36 percent), some college but no degree (34 percent), a high school credential2 (33 percent), or less than a high school credential (26 percent). The preschool enrollment percentage for those children whose parents’ highest level of education was less than a high school credential (26 percent) was lower than the corresponding percentages for all other educational attainment groups.

The percentage of 3- to 5-year-olds enrolled in full-day and part-day preschool programs also varied by parents’ highest level of education. In 2017, the percentage of 3- to 5-year-olds enrolled in full-day preschool programs was higher for children whose parents’ highest level of education was a graduate or professional degree (25 percent) or a bachelor’s degree (26 percent) than for children whose parents’ highest level of education was a high school credential (19 percent) or less than a high school credential (13 percent). In addition, the percentage of children enrolled in full-day preschool programs was higher for those whose parents’ highest level of education was a bachelor’s degree than for those whose parents’ highest level of education was an associate’s degree (20 percent) or some college but no degree (20 percent). The percentage of children in full-day programs whose parents’ highest level of education was less than a high school credential was lower than the corresponding percentages for all other groups.

For the following groups, the percentage of 3- to 5-year-olds who were enrolled in full-day preschool programs was greater than the percentage enrolled in part-day preschool programs: children whose parents’ highest level of education was a high school credential (19 vs. 14 percent), some college but no degree (20 vs. 14 percent), an associate’s degree (20 vs. 15 percent), and a bachelor’s degree (26 vs. 21 percent). Among children whose parents’ highest level of education was less than a high school credential or a graduate or professional degree, there were no measurable differences between the percentages of children enrolled in full-day preschool programs versus the percentages enrolled in part-day programs.


1 Preschool programs are also known as nursery school programs and are defined as a group or class that is organized to provide educational experiences for children during the year or years preceding kindergarten.
2 Includes parents who completed high school through equivalency credentials, such as the GED.


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