Why Early Learning Matters In Louisiana 


School Success


High-quality early childhood programs are proven to reduce grade level retention and offset the need for costly special education services. High quality early childhood programming also improves graduation rates by providing the foundational skills and behaviors for children even before they enter kindergarten.


In Louisiana, despite much progress in our educational system:

  • 22% of Louisiana’s children do not graduate high school on time (i.e., they either drop out or take more than 4 years to complete high school).

  • Nearly 23% of children ages 6 to 17 have repeated one or more grades since starting kindergarten. 

  • Louisiana ranked 48th for 8th grade reading scores and 49th for 8th grade math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Over 40% of Louisiana's children begin Kindergarten behind. Children who begin school behind, generally remain behind. The majority of brain development happens before age five, and early experiences have a profound effect on lifelong success. Quality early learning and care programs have been found to maximize this vital period of growth, supporting cognitive, social and emotional development. Children, especially those at risk of school failure, who attend high-quality early care and education programs been shown to achieve:


  • Higher test scores  

  • Improved social and emotional skills, including better interactions
    with peers and teachers

  • Lower rates of grade repetition and special education placements;

  • Greater high school graduation and college attendance rates; and ultimately

  • Increased employment rates and higher earnings in adulthood


All babies in Louisiana, and across the United States, need good health, strong families, and positive early learning experiences to foster healthy brain development and realize their full potential. How does Louisiana compare with the United States in providing these supports?


Additional Resources:

James J. Heckman, Rob Grunewald and Arthur J. Reynolds. “The Dollars and Cents of Investing Early: Cost-Benefit Analysis in Early Care and Education.” Zero to Three, July 2006, Vol. 26, No. 6, 10–17.  


Richard Chase, Brandon Coffee-Borden, Paul Anton, Christopher Moore, and Jennifer Valorose. “The cost burden to Minnesota K-12 when children are unprepared for kindergarten.” Wilder Research. December 2008  


Belfield, Clive R., and Heather Schwartz. “The Economic Consequences of Early Childhood Education on the School System.” New Brunswick, NJ: National Institute for Early Education Research, 2006.