A national report says North Carolina is one of five states to meet all quality benchmarks in its state-run prekindergarten program last year.
The report by Rutgers University's National Institute for Early Education Research says North Carolina's program met all of 10 of its benchmarks while spending $126 per child less than researchers estimated would be necessary.
Georgia, Alabama, Alaska and Rhode Island are the other states to meet all 10 benchmarks.
Thirty-nine states offer early-childhood education because studies have shown kids enrolled in quality programs do better academically, are less likely to spend time in prison later and make more money as adults.
A state report says the North Carolina Legislature's $32 million cut in state support led to nearly 6,200 fewer slots in prekindergarten as of October. The service is now available to less than 25,000 children, while about 67,000 children are eligible.