What is universal pre-kindergarten?
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:
- better attendance
- 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?
Download full brief (PDF, 07/2014)