Change Indicator

Public preschool in Maine

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Why This Indicator Matters

Access to high-quality preschool can enrich children's development so that they thrive in school and later enter the workforce as well-prepared employees. Public preschool, sometimes known as prekindergarten, is an optional program and the decision to offer a four-year-old program is made by school boards at the local level. Some areas of the state serve the majority of their four-year-olds through public preschool, where other areas serve a small percentage. 

What the data shows
 Enrollment in public pre-school had been increasing and was 6,187 students as of October 2019. But, due to the pandemic fewer students enrolled in public pre-school the following fall. In October 2020, there were just 4,746 public preschool students, statewide, a drop of 23%. It took 3 years to recover, but as of October 2022, there were 6,269 students in public preschool, more than in 2019. Exactly that many 6,269 were enrolled as of October 2023, though the distribution by county varied from the year before. This represent 48.5% of all of Maine's 4-year-olds.

In 2023-2024, there was notable variation by county. The highest rate of public preschool enrollment for the latest school year was in Washington County at 87.1%, followed by Piscataquis County at 83.6% and Aroostook County at 80.1%   In 2023-2024 school year,  only Cumberland County had a rate below 30% at 26.6%. The next two lowest counties were: Waldo, (32.3%) and Sagadahoc (38.1%).

National data is for three and four-year olds (50% enrolled in public preschool in 2021 and Maine's program is only for four-year-olds, so there is no comparable data. See National Education Statistics students age 3 and 4

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Definition and Source



The number and percent of four-year-old children enrolled in a four-year-old program offered through a school administrative unit. Children must be four years of age by October 15 of the entering school year in order to be eligible for a public preschool program, also known as pre-kindergarten. Data marked as 2023 is for students enrolled as of October 2023.


Data represent school years. Year indicated is the fall term of the year, such that "2023" means the 2022-2023 school year.

Previous data for 2015-2016 was revised to include the sum of PK and PR which are two different types of public preschool programs. Data from 2020 and later from the Maine Department of Education has no separate breakout between Pre-Kindergarten and Preschool.

Last Updated

January 2024