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New 'Opportunity Index' Charts Preschool, Other Education Indicators by Community

Opportunity Nation, a coalition of 300 community organizations, has released the latest version of its Opportunity Index, a web-based tool that allows users to see their community's performance on 16 different indicators. 

For education, the index evaluates communities and states based on preschool enrollment, on-time high school graduation rate, and the percentage of adults over the age of 25 who have earned an associate's degree or higher. The higher a state or community scores in those areas, the better they appear on the education portion of the tool. 

Other indicators include economic data such as wages and unemployment rate, and community health information such as percent of volunteers and access to doctors. 

The District of Columbia claimed the top spot on preschool enrollment, with about 76 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled. Nevada was at the bottom, with 32 percent of its 3 and 4-year-olds in preschool. The national average is about 47 percent. 

"The top line overall is that scores are trending up in general, as the country continues to recover from the recession," said Russell Krumnow, the managing director of Opportunity Nation, which has offices in Washington and Boston. "The more nuanced and holistic view is that's not universal across all the indicators."

For example, while preschool enrollment numbers have been flat, high school graduation rates have gone up. Krumnow said he was seeing broad support for early childhood education, however, and that the data may not be picking up on some of the more recent expansion efforts. 

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