A Consensus on Pre-Kintergarden Outcomes

A Pre-Kindergarten Task Force of interdisciplinary scientists reviewed the evidence on the impact of state-funded pre-kindergarten programs and came to the findings, conclusions, and recommendation:

    • Studies of different groups of preschoolers often find greater improvement in learning at the end of the pre-k year for economically disadvantaged children and dual language learners than for more advantaged and English-proficient children.
    • Pre-k programs are not all equally effective. Several effectiveness factors may be at work in the most successful programs. One such factor supporting early learning is a well implemented, evidence-based curriculum. Coaching for teachers, as well as efforts to promote orderly but active classrooms, may also be helpful.
    • Children’s early learning trajectories depend on the quality of their learning experiences not only before and during their pre-k year, but also following the pre-k year. Classroom experiences early in elementary school can serve as charging stations for sustaining and amplifying pre-k learning gains. One good bet for powering up later learning is elementary school classrooms that provide individualization and differentiation in instructional content and strategies.
    • Convincing evidence shows that children attending a diverse array of state and school district pre-k programs are more ready for school at the end of their pre-k year than children who do not attend pre-k. Improvements in academic areas such as literacy and numeracy are most common; the smaller number of studies of social-emotional and self-regulatory development generally show more modest improvements in those areas.
    • Convincing evidence on the longer-term impacts of scaled-up pre-k programs on academic outcomes and school progress is sparse, precluding broad conclusions. The evidence that does exist often shows that pre-k-induced improvements in learning are detectable during elementary school, but studies also reveal null or negative longer-term impacts for some programs.
    • In conclusion, the scientific rationale, the uniformly positive evidence of impact on kindergarten readiness, and the nascent body of ongoing inquiry about long-term impacts lead us to conclude that continued implementation of scaled-up pre-k programs is in order as long as the implementation is accompanied by rigorous evaluation of impact.

The full Study, The Current State of Scientific Knowledge on Pre-Kindergarten Effects, was co authored by Deborah Phillips of Georgetown University, Mark W. Lipsey of Vanderbilt, Kenneth Dodge of Duke, Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution and others.

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