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Quality Preschools Seen to Reduce Learning Gaps

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Learning gaps can be reduced if children deemed at risk attend high-quality early-childhood class-rooms and receive strong instructional and emotional support from teachers, according to a University of Virginia study.

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The study—led by Robert Pianta, an education professor at the university in Charlottesville, Va.—examined two groups of children: those whose mothers had less than a four-year college degree, and children who had shown significant social, behavioral, or academic problems. In high-quality class-rooms, the children from "low-education households" achieved at the same level as those whose mothers had a college degree, and those with learning or social problems performed the same as students who did not have a history of such problems, the study found.

In an article about his study, which appears in the winter issue of Education Next—a journal from the Hoover Institution, based at Stanford University in California—Mr. Pianta stresses that the problem is that few at-risk children actually attend high-quality programs that can narrow achievement gaps.

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