The Current State of Scientific Knowledge on Pre-Kindergarten Effects

The Current State of Scientific Knowledge on Pre-Kindergarten Effects

Pre-k programs in forty-two states and the District of Columbia now serve nearly 30 percent of the nation’s 4-year-olds and 5 percent of 3-year olds, yet convincing evidence on the longer-term impacts of scaled-up pre-k programs on academic outcomes and school progress is sparse, a report from the Brookings Institution finds. Compiled by a task force of social scientists from Brookings and Duke University, the report, The Current State of Scientific Knowledge on Pre-Kindergarten Effects (106 pages, PDF), offers six consensus statements, including: Children who attend pre-k programs are more school-ready than those who do not; their early learning trajectories depend on the quality of their learning experiences not only before and during but also following their pre-k year; economically disadvantaged children and dual-language learners tend to show greater improvement than more advantaged and English-proficient children; among the effectiveness factors that may make a difference are curricula that build foundational skills, professional development and coaching for teachers, and organized and engaging classrooms. The task force also agreed that the paucity of clear evidence on the longer-term impacts of pre-k programs precludes broad conclusions and that ongoing innovation and evaluation are needed during and after pre-k to ensure continued improvement.