Understanding Heterogeneity in the Impact of Public Preschool Programs
Volume 88, Issue 1, Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development
By Tyler W. Watts, Jade M. Jenkins, Kenneth A. Dodge with Robert C. Carr, Maria Sauval, Yu Bai, Maya Escueta, Jennifer K. Duer, Helen F. Ladd, Clara G. Muschkin, Ellen Peisner-Feinberg, and Elizabeth Ananat
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We test the effects of exposure to North Carolina’s Pre-Kindergarten (NC Pre-K) program on academic achievement through grade 5 (n = 1,207,576; 58% White Non-Hispanic, 29% Black Non-Hispanic, 7% Hispanic) by leveraging variation in funding for NC Pre-K across 100 NC counties over 18 years. We find living in a county in a year of comparatively high funding is associated with higher academic achievement for the children of that county, and this effect is larger for Hispanic children and children from mothers with lower levels of education. The effect remains positive across most environments and is larger in some environments marked by greater disadvantage, consistent with a compensatory model in which pre-k provides a buffer against adverse influences. Implications for pre-k scale-up and developmental theory are discussed.
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About the Authors
A Life Course Perspective on the Promise of Public Preschool by Eric Dearing
Using Research to Advance Implementation of Public Pre-Kindergarten by Brenda Jones Harden
The Background and Goals of the NC Pre-K Program
How the Findings Apply or Not Apply to Other State-Funded Pre-K Programs
Key Research Questions for the Study
The Contribution of This Study to Early Childhood Development and Education
How This Study Identifies the Effect of NC Pre-K Funding on Children
The Key Results of the Study