Pre-K Shows Long-Term Benefits for Children, New Study Finds

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Experts have long said that three- and four-year-olds enrolled in early childhood programs, such as universal preschool, do better in the long term. And while it’s great, in the US the cost of pre-kindergarten can be high, the waiting lists long, and sometimes only accessible to parents who can afford it.

This is why Biden’s universal pre-kindergarten plan, which would extend universal and free pre-kindergarten to all children aged 3 and 4, is so massive: It’s another two years of free school for children. children. And a new study proves how urgent it is to implement the plan – not just for parents’ wallets, but their children’s brains as well.

Here is the context of the study

In the 1990s, Boston expanded its state-funded pre-K program, allowing more people to access the program. However, there were not enough places for each 4-year-old eligible to enroll, so a lottery system was put in place to determine, at random, which children could participate in preschool-funded programs. State.

And Boston’s pre-K data, full of 20 years of random information, was studied, analyzed and only afterwards by three economists from the University of California, Berkley, the University of Chicago and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The data dispels any doubt that Universal Pre-K for 3-4 year olds is vital.

The study, published on May 10, 2021, was consistent with other pre-K results. He revealed that Boston kids who won the pre-K lottery did not perform better on standardized tests in elementary, middle or high school. In fact, there was no evidence that there was an educational benefit for children who attended pre-K over those who did not. But the well-being and overall fulfillment of life was profoundly different for the children who entered it.

But the results show that Universal Pre-K is extremely important for children

Children who attended state-funded pre-K were “less likely to be suspended from high school and less likely to be sentenced to juvenile incarceration,” the New York Times reports. “Almost 70 percent of lottery winners graduated from high school, compared to 64 percent of lottery losers, which is a substantial difference for two otherwise similar groups. Winners were also more likely to take the SAT, enroll in college, and – although evidence is incomplete, due to the age of the students – to obtain a college degree.

According to the researchers, the positive effects of pre-K were similar for all genders. However, they had more of an impact on the boys than on the girls. The effects were the same across all racial and income groups.

“An important implication of our study is that large-scale modern public preschool programs can improve educational attainment,” said Christopher Walters, an economist at Berkeley. The New York Times.

And that only backs up other childcare data

The Boston study isn’t the only study to show the long-term effects of high-quality pre-K. In 1972, the UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute established the Abecedarian Project, a controlled longitudinal study that continues today. The Abecedarian project started in the early childhood of participants and exposed children to high quality child care and education for five years before entering school.

It’s not just a question of grades

The results of more than 30 years of follow-up studies have shown that participants exposed to care and education continue to thrive.

“The study determined that people who received early care with the Abecedarian program have lower rates of prehypertension in their mid-30s than those in the control group,” the researcher noted in the 2014 follow-up. “They also have a significantly lower risk of developing total coronary artery disease (CHD) – defined as stable and unstable angina, myocardial infarction, or death from CHD – over the next 10 years.”

So will we get a universal and free Pre-K?

Right now, the Biden administration is pushing to make pre-K universally available in all states. Not only would this unlock long-term socioeconomic, health and mental benefits for children, but having access to pre-K has great benefits for parents as well.

Universal pre-K would allow parents to re-enter the workforce without worrying that the cost of education will be more than what their wages bring home, which is a big reality for many parents. (One study found an almost immediate 11% increase in labor force participation among DC mothers after the introduction of universal preschool in the city.)

For children, universal-pre-k bridges some gaps in achievement, but is, more importantly, a vehicle for a better, healthier future. For parents, universal pre-kindergarten helps parents re-enter the labor market in observable numbers. Politics is a given – so hopefully we get it soon.



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