Research, by the Foundation for Child Development, indicates that 3 and 4 year old children are being expelled from preschool at a rate higher than school children in grades K through 12.  The research was a focus of a briefing on Capitol Hill briefing on Thursday, June 12.  The event was hosted by Zero to Three and the National Black Child Development Institute. The research from a few years earlier indicates:


  • Prekindergarten expulsions rate was 6.7 per 1000 enrolled prekindergarteners compared with rates for K-12 students at 2.1 per 1000 (3.2 times higher).
  • Four year olds were expelled at a rate about 50 percent higher than three-year olds.
  • Boys were expelled at a rate over 4.5 times that of girls.
  • African –American children attending state-funded prekindergarten were approximately two times as likely to be expelled as Latino and white children and five times as likely to be expelled as Asian-American children

The data was drawn from 2005 survey data from 52 pre-k programs in the 40 states having programs. It was compared to overall expulsion rates drawn from Department of Education data from 2001. Although there were variations in pre-K expulsion rates between the states, in all but three states the pre-k expulsion rates exceeded K-12 expulsion rates (three states: Kentucky, South Carolina and Louisiana).

Presenters included Walter Gilliam, Director Edward Zigler Center in Child Development, and Lauren Hogan Vice President National Black Child Development. The reasons for expulsion revolve around disruptive behavior with a wide variation in the methods of how children were expelled. Most involved parents being told that their child could no longer attend the program. One extreme example, raised to highlight the variations in approach, occurred in St Petersburg Florida more than seven years ago when the pre-k program involved the police to remove a five year old girl in a police car.

Factors that influence rates negatively were: higher student to teacher ratios, longer days (extended care) and teacher job stressors.

Some of the recommendations to address the issue include: early education child care teachers having access to early childhood mental health consultation to assist teachers, enforcement of lower student-teacher ratios, and reasonable hours for early childhood teachers. In regard to research priorities: why boys and African-Americans are at greater risk, more research on teacher preparation, research in family and community factors, research on early intervention services as a preventive for severe behavioral problems.

To examine the research go to: Prekindergartners Left Behind: Expulsion Rates in State Prekindergarten Programs