Pre-kindergarten refers to programs that provide a year of education prior to entry into kindergarten. Universal programs are voluntary state programs that are open to all age-eligible children. Currently, the majority of state-funded Pre-K programs are targeted programs that primarily serve at-risk children (usually based on low family income).
How does Pre-K benefit children?
Research shows that Pre-K programs are typically of higher quality than other preschools or center-based programs and that Pre-K children are better prepared for school (Barnett 2008, Magnuson 2007).
For states that have already implemented universal Pre-K, the results have been impressive.
Studies of Oklahoma’s Pre-K program find significant effects on test scores, language development, and motor skills at kindergarten entry (Gormley 2005).
Early gains were still detectable in 3rd grade (Hill 2012).
An evaluation of Georgia’s Pre-K program found that participants had stronger cognitive and language skills in kindergarten than children who did not attend (Henry 2006).
The benefits of Pre-K are not limited to test scores.
Children who receive high-quality Pre-K have:
fewer behavior problems
increased chances of reading at grade level in 4th grade (Hill 2006, Gormley 2011).
Tennessee’s targeted Pre-K program has been shown to boost school readiness.
An ongoing independent evaluation has found that during the year before kindergarten, Pre-K children develop literacy, language, and math skills faster than non-participating children.
Gains made by Pre-K children are 37 to 176 percent greater than those of non-Pre-K children and persist into the elementary grades.
When they begin kindergarten, Pre-K children are rated more highly than their peers on teachers’ assessments of school readiness (Lipsey 2011, SRG 2008).
How does Pre-K benefit communities?
How does universal, state-funded Pre-K compare to other programs?