LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A new study has placed Arkansas at the head of the class in early childhood education. 

The study by the consumer finance site WalletHub ranked Arkansas as number-one in the United States based on three different metrics: access to preschool programs, quality of programs, resources and economic support. 

While Arkansas was not the top-ranked in any of these metrics, it scored especially high in access and quality, leading to its final top score.

The Natural State ranked fourth-highest in access. Access was based upon factors such as the share of school districts that offer pre-K programs and the share of 3 and 4-year-olds enrolled in pre-K.

Quality was the best category for Arkansas, with it being second behind New Jersey. The quality score factoring included the percentage of pre-K teachers who are college graduates and the requirement of school safety plans and audits.

Resources and economics was the only place Arkansas did not score well, ranking at 18th. Measures included total spending per child in preschool and total state Head Start spending per child.

The lowest-ranking state was Indiana.

The study’s authors pointed out that early education leads to children being better prepared for future grades, giving them higher earning potential in their lives.

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said improving early education, with an emphasis on literacy, was a goal of passing the Arkansas LEARNS Act.