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Talent measures who is working today, and how well the region’s talent pipeline is being prepared for the jobs of tomorrow.

Best Practices & Deeper Dives

How to Read the Tiles How to Read the Tiles

Early Education

Early childhood education has been proven to be an early and predictable determinant of future educational and economic success. 90% of brain development occurs before age 5. Performance on the 3rd grade English Language Arts assessment is also vital to educational outcomes. Leading up to 3rd grade, a child is learning to read, and after 3rd grade children read to learn.

Florida Talent Indicators: English Language Arts Third Grade Reading
Florida Talent Indicators: Kindergarten Readiness
Share of 3 & 4 Year Olds Enrolled in School

2024 Takeaways

The percentage of 3- and 4- year-olds enrolled in school in the Tampa Bay region has improved marginally to 43.37%, yet our rank plummeted from 7th in 2023 to 17th in 2024. The comparison communities are improving their enrollment rates more quickly. For instance, the U.S. average jumped over six percentage points (from 40.19% to 46.68%). South Florida leads the competitive set at 59.93%.

Additionally, the 2024 Regional Competitiveness Report shows that 50.28% of Tampa Bay students are ready for kindergarten (compared to 49.45% in the 2023 report), and our ranking improved to second place.

Our 3rd grade reading levels have decreased to 47.70%.


Increases to the early learning indicators will influence the long-term educational success of the students. Higher enrollment in quality care at ages 3 and 4 have a correlation to kindergarten readiness. Third-grade reading level proficiencies are the foundation for the higher learning required in middle school and high-school.


Lower enrollment, kindergarten readiness, and third-grade reading levels signal that a larger percentage of students may experience academic difficulties throughout their educational career.


  • Access and affordability of childcare services
  • Quality of childcare/ early learning providers
  • Funding and retention of early learning instructors
  • Engagement from caregivers and family members