The Current State of Scientific Knowledge on Pre-Kindergarten Effects

Source: Deborah A. Phillips, Mark W. Lipsey, Kenneth A. Dodge, Ron Haskins, Daphna Bassok, Margaret R. Burchinal, Greg J. Duncan, Mark Dynarski, Katherine A. Magnuson, and Christina Weiland, Brookings Institution, 2017

From the summary:
Scientific research has established that if all children are to achieve their developmental potential, it is important to lay the foundation during the earliest years for lifelong health, learning, and positive behavior. A central question is how well our public pre-kindergarten (pre-K) programs are doing to build this foundation.

Forty-two states and the District of Columbia, through 57 pre-K programs, have introduced substantial innovations in their early education systems by developing the infrastructure, program sites, and workforce required to accommodate pre-K education. These programs now serve nearly 30 percent of the nation’s 4-year-olds and 5 percent of 3-year-olds.

In recent years, there as been increasing interest in assessing how well these short- and long-term goals have been achieved. What should we expect pre-K to produce for our society? How can we ensure that children who attend these programs get as much out of them as they can? ….

…. All members of the Task Force agreed on six consensus statements, which include:
• 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;
• There is often greater improvement for economically disadvantaged children and dual-language learners after a year of per-k than there is for more advantaged and English-proficient children;
• Among the effectiveness factors that may make a difference are curricula that build foundational skills, professional development and coaching for teachers, and organized and engaging classrooms;
• Convincing evidence on the longer-term impacts of contemporary scaled-up pre-K programs on academic outcomes and school progress is sparse, precluding broad conclusions. ….
Consensus statement