Leave it to the Rio Grande Foundation (RGF) to highlight the single U.S. study (from Tennessee) that shows a negative correlation of academic performance between those attending a state pre-K child education program and those not attending.
As the RGF admits, most studies show a positive correlation. In fact, not long after the release of that study, yet another study of positive relationships between pre-K child education and academic performance and attendance was released, this time concerning Indiana’s pre-K program.
Tennessee’s program only served 5-25 percent of the state’s poor, and was poorly funded, ironically consistent with the overall type of policies the RGF often supports.
The RGF column also claims many of the positive effect studies did not use the type of analysis used in the Tennessee study, but that, too, is misleading. A 2017 meta-analysis of various studies of pre-K programs showed half (11 of 22) used random assignment, comparison of siblings who did and did not attend the program, regression discontinuity designs, etc., as used in the Tennessee study.
In 2020, a study concerning North Carolina’s pre-K program, which program had begun in 2005, stated: “More than 15 years of longitudinal research, including studies (from the)…University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill … and Duke University, have found that NC Pre‐K has demonstrated significant positive outcomes for children in key domains of learning for later school success, including language development and communication; cognitive development; and social and emotional development.”
Ongoing research by Duke University found that access to Smart Start and NC Pre‐K significantly reduced the likelihood that children will be placed in special education through eighth grade, increased third-grade reading and math scores, and decreased retention in the same grade…(The) Pre‐K program has consistently embraced high standards, a strong record of quality, and extensive evidence of effectiveness.”
Don’t let the Rio Grande Foundation fool us. N.M. needs to begin this pre-K child education program. Please vote for the constitutional amendment to establish this program this November.
Mitchell J. Freedman