New results from the longitudinal study of children who participated in New Jersey’s Abbott pre-k program (a universal pre-k program for 3- and 4-year-olds in 31 of the state’s highest poverty districts) find that gains from participating in Abbott pre-k persist through at least 4th and 5th grade. Gains were both statistically and educationally significant (equivalent to as much as 20-40 percent of the black-white achievement gap for children who attended 2 years of preschool).
This is an important additional piece of evidence on the debate over preschool effects and the phenomenon of “fade out.” As I said at the Fordham Foundation last week, the issue here isn’t whether evidence shows that preschool works or not, or whether preschool gains can be sustained over time. There is a abundant evidence that preschool programs can produce significant learning gains for participating children and that in at least some cases those gains can be sustained into elementary school. The question, then, is whether adults have the political will to put in place the kinds of programs that produce those results, and the capacity to execute them effectively.
The opinions expressed in Sara Mead’s Policy Notebook are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.