- Research from the Center for American progress shows that high-quality universal preschool definitively helps close socioeconomic and racial achievement gaps.
- According to the study, less than 20% of black, Hispanic and low-income students attend high-quality preschool, while around 25% of white students and 30% of those from more affluent families do attend such schools.
- By attending a high-quality preschool, the learning gap between wealthy and poor students can be closed by 41%.
Because the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) makes existing Preschool Development Grants permanent by law, more children will have access to pre-k learning. Though lawmakers generally still disagree on pre-K implementation, very few question its efficacy and importance.
A study from Duke University reported that universal preschool programs actually save money for states, since they result in a lower number of students being placed in special education programs later. But it's important to note the differences in quality. Recently, the Learning Policy Institute released a research brief, “The Building Blocks of High-Quality Early Childhood Education Programs,” for California educators that cites the importance of linking preschool funding allocations with school quality. Researchers came up with 10 “building blocks” they say account for high quality schools, including teacher qualifications, comprehensive standards and parent engagement.
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that 450 bills with some tie to early childhood are now pending in 46 states, and a recent Education Commission of the States report showed state funding for preschool programs increased in 32 states and the District of Columbia by $755 million between 2015 and 2016.
School systems that want to expand pre-K can use California as an example. There, a successful state-mandated “transitional kindergarten” (TK) program now serves 83,000 students. A study recently found that the TK program is beneficial to young learners. The major difference between TK and regular preschool is TK teachers must have bachelor’s degrees and teaching credentials.