Two recent studies challenge a piece of conventional wisdom about pre-K — the notion that early education makes a big difference in student success.
Education Week’s Christina A. Samuels reported on the two studies Thursday. One study examines the connection between state pre-K programs and standardized test scores. The second study follows up on a controversial 2015 critique of Tennessee’s pre-K program.
“Both (studies) say that the effects of prekindergarten don’t appear to be long-lasting, and that advocates should invest time and effort in other methods that might achieve the goal of school readiness,” Samuels wrote.
Thumbnails from the Education Week article:
- The multistate study concluded that a 10 percent increase in statewide pre-K enrollment would yield less than a 1 percent improvement in scores on the fourth-grade National Assessment of Educational Progress reading exam.
- The Tennessee study focuses on third-grade test scores. Students who enrolled in pre-K scored lower than non pre-K students in reading, science and math. The reasons are unclear. One theory suggests Tennessee’s pre-K programs simply weren’t very good. Another theory suggests that grade school teachers were unable to build on what children learned in pre-K.
Pre-K continues to be a polarizing issue in Idaho, one of only six states that does not fund an early education program. Supporters argue that pre-K will help prepare young children for the academic challenges that await them in the K-12 system. Opponents question the value of a statewide program, and suggest early education may be best left to families.