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New Consensus Study Assesses the Long-term Effects of Pre-K Education

This week, Education grantee Brookings Institution hosted leading pre-K researchers who presented six consensus statements about the effects of pre-K education, with the goal of informing further research in this area. The consensus statements are part of a report, “The Current State of Scientific Knowledge on Pre-Kindergarten Effects,” that includes the role of curriculum, challenges to scaling effective programs, and financing.

The report stems from a 2016 grant the Heising-Simons Foundation awarded Brookings Institution for $122,000 to synthesize the current evidence around long-term outcomes of pre-K programs operating at scale and to advise next-stage research efforts.

The consensus findings (edited for brevity) are:

  • 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 successful programs, such as a well implemented and evidence-based curriculum, coaching, and orderly active classrooms;
  • Children’s early learning trajectories depend on the quality of learning experiences before, during, and after the pre-K year;
  • Children who attend 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;
  • Convincing evidence on the longer-term impact of scaled-up pre-K programs on academic outcomes and school achievement is sparse, precluding broad conclusions;
  • Ongoing innovation and evaluation are needed during and after pre-K to ensure continued improvement in creating and sustaining learning gains.

The report was developed by 10  researchers and scientists, including Dr. Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution, Dr. Deborah A. Phillips of Georgetown University, Dr. Mark W. Lipsey of Vanderbilt University, Dr. Kenneth A. Dodge of Duke University, Daphna Bassok of the University of Virginia, Margaret R. Burchinal of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Greg J. Duncan of the University of California-Irvine, Mark Dynarski of the Brookings Institution, Katherine A. Magnuson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Christina Weiland of the University of Michigan.

To access the full text of the consensus statements and complete report, please click here.