Research shows high-quality, accessible prekindergarten that meets the physical, cognitive and social developmental needs of children can have long-lasting positive effects. So just how good is the pre-K program in your city?

A new report (see results below) looks at prekindergarten programs in 40 cities and rates them on 10 benchmarks that experts say are necessary for healthy and thriving students and communities. The benchmarks — set by the National Institute for Early Education Research, which is part of the Rutgers Graduate School of Education in New Jersey — are:

  • Comprehensive, aligned and supported early learning and development standards
  • Lead teacher has a bachelor’s degree
  • Lead teacher has specialized training in pre-K
  • Assistant teacher has a child development associate degree or equivalent
  • At least 15 hours a year of teacher in-service professional development for lead and assistant teachers; coaching; professional development plan
  • Maximum class size of 20 children
  • Staff-child ratio 1: 10 or better
  • Vision, hearing, and health screening and referral
  • Supports for implementation
  • System of continuous quality improvement

Medals were given to cities that reached certain benchmarks by CityHealth, an initiative of the de Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente. Thirty-four of the 40 cities won either a gold, silver or bronze medal. (You can look below at the list of cities and check out how well the pre-K programs did on each benchmark or click here.)

A dozen cities earned a gold medal, which required programs to meet eight of the 10 high-quality benchmarks and enroll at least 30 percent of a city’s 4-year-old children in a locally or state-funded pre-K program. They are Albuquerque, Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Nashville, New York, Oklahoma City, San Antonio and San Francisco.

Cities receiving a silver medal — which required programs meet eight quality benchmarks but did not enroll at least 30 percent of a their city’s 4-year-olds — are Austin; Kansas City, Mo.; Portland, Ore.; Seattle and Virginia Beach.

Cities earning a bronze medal — which required programs meet at least half of the 10 benchmarks and the 30 percent enrollment threshold — are Baltimore; Denver; El Paso; Fort Worth; Fresno, Calif.; Houston; Jacksonville, Fla.; Long Beach, Calif.; Los Angeles; Louisville; Memphis; Milwaukee; Sacramento; San Diego; San Jose, and Washington.

Cities failing to quality for a medal are Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis; Las Vegas; Mesa, Ariz.; Philadelphia; Phoenix, and Tucson.