The fight for Pre-K is underway across the country. Parents, educators, and policymakers all over are clamoring for high quality early learning programs claiming that the benefits of preschool are too great to be ignored. A federal-funded program study has corroborated their claims.
A recently released report has found that preschool expansion yields academic gains. The study was based around a four-year federal Preschool Development Grant (PEG) which the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) was awarded in 2014. The report describes the impact of the expansion.
Just as preschool advocates had been claiming for years, the study found that preschool had a “statistically significant” impact on academic skills:
The Massachusetts Preschool Expansion Grant (PEG) had positive statistically significant impacts on children’s academic skills. Effects on early literacy (.92) and early math skills (.45) were large enough to be robust to variations in the analytic model. Effects on vocabulary were smaller but still statistically significant (.21).
This isn’t surprising to many as it doesn’t take a Ph.D. to understand that children who are exposed to learning earlier are more successful. However, the study also found that the expansion was of even bigger benefit to students who are more “at-risk” to struggle in school:
Exploratory analyses considering differential program effects by child demographics suggested that PEG was more effective for some of the children most at-risk in the formal educational system: those whose primary home language was not English and those without formal prior early childhood education.
This study is important, but it is not exactly groundbreaking. For all of the data and studies preschool advocates seek to provide to prove their point, the real obstacle isn’t the lack of belief in the programs…it’s the lack of money to pay for them. Hopefully, more studies like the aforementioned will create the political will to pay for preschool nationwide.
Read the full study here.