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.

Mono 88.1
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About the Authors



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

Teaching and Research Resources