Yesterday, Vanderbilt University’s Peabody Research Institute released two studies showing that children enrolled in the state’s pre-K program made greater academic gains than peers not in the program.
The first study compared children enrolled in state pre-K with similar peers who applied but could not attend due to space limitations. All 303 children took pre- and post-tests in early literacy and math skills. Children enrolled in state pre-K gained an average of 82 percent more on the tests than their peers who did not attend pre-K. The greatest gains were in early literacy skills, especially vocabulary and comprehension.
The second study compared 682 children enrolled in state pre-K programs to 676 children who entered a year later because of the birth-date cutoff. The study controlled for the age difference and found that pre-K again made an impact on growth in early literacy and math, with the biggest gains in literacy.
Both studies will continue tracking the children for the next four years to see whether and how pre-K affects their performance in elementary school. According to an article from The Commercial Appeal newspaper, in Memphis, legislators in Tennessee proposing cuts in state pre-K have pointed to other studies showing that pre-K gains fade by second or third grade to support their argument.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.