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Enrollment In State Pre-K Inches Up But Disparities Remain

Ted S. Warren / AP

Declan Hart, 4, left, and teacher-in-training Deassi Usman, right, play with shape blocks during a Pre-Kindergarten class at the Community Day Center for Children, during class Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, in Seattle.

Ted S. Warren / AP

(AP) - Enrollment in state pre-kindergarten programs inched up slightly last year, but there's been little change in the overall percentage of children participating.

A national study on early education released on Monday also found wide disparities among states.

The National Institute for Early Education Research director, Steven Barnett, said at the current pace it will be another 75 years before state pre-K programs enroll all children from low-income families.

Early education is widely recognized as an important component to helping ensure children from all backgrounds enter school ready to learn.

Total enrollment rose by 8,535 students in the 2013-14 school year. But that increase follows a loss of 4,000 seats in the programs following post-recession state budget cuts in 2012-13.