The Research on Pre-K
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A large and growing body of research shows that investing in high-quality pre-kindergarten education yields benefits for children, schools, and communities. This summary describes the short- and long-term benefits of high-quality pre-k programs and the potential cost savings to communities. In addition, it outlines the key program criteria that contribute to pre-k success.
There is strong evidence showing that young children who participate in high-quality pre-k programs enter school more ready to learn than their peers. The national Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—Kindergarten Cohort shows that students who attended a pre-k program scored higher on reading and math tests than children receiving parental care.1 Students who attended a child care center or other preschool program also showed gains, although former pre-k students exhibited the greatest achievement.
Several state studies have also documented significant cognitive gains for children who receive pre-k.
Oklahoma, another state with pre-k for all children, has documented significant academic gains across all income and racial groups. Participation in pre-k was a more powerful predictor of children’s pre-reading and pre-writing scores than demographic variables such as race, family income, and mother’s education level.3 An evaluation of the program in Tulsa, the state’s largest school district, showed significant increases in letter-word identification, spelling, and applied problems among students on free or reduced-priced lunch and those not participating in the subsidy program. – See more at: http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Pre-kindergarten/Pre-Kindergarten#sthash.jzZ6r00m.dpuf
Most long-term pre-k research has focused on whether program effects fade out over time or produce lasting benefits for participants. Three major longitudinal studies which began in the 1960s and 1970s—the High/Scope Perry Preschool Project, the Chicago Parent Centers, and the Abecedarian Project—show demonstrably positive effects of quality pre-k on the future lives of young children.
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