20 JanLong-term effects of full day kindergarten found, if right conditions are met

Posted on 20 Jan 2023

Research into the longitudinal impact of kindergarten or preschool in the year before school has revealed, from small scale-experiments, learning gains and in particular large gains for disadvantaged children. However, larger trials have often shown a fade out in impact. Research on the long term impacts of universal preschool in Boston provides  new evidence through a randomised trial that the impacts of preschool are long term, even if not reflected in grades. CLICK HERE to view the research. 

The researchers draw on data from the Boston Public School district, as children were entered into a lottery to be offered a place in preschool so the system itself is a random experiment. Boston preschools were autonomous and high quality, and introduced six hour preschool for five year olds. Unlike other preschool programs like Tennessee, the Boston model was universal and not targeted to disadvantaged children. 

Preschool enrolment correlated with high school graduation and a reduced number of suspensions. 

There was a correlation with a reduced likelihood of being in the bottom quartile in the SATs and more likelihood of being in the top quartile, however there was no difference on other assessment measures. This is consistent with other research that shows the impact of preschool is less evident on test scores. 

Longitudinal data shows preschool attendance correlated strongly with college enrolment and with graduation, and a reduction in incarceration. The impacts are felt more strongly for boys than girls. 

The research affirms the importance of quality, play based early childhood education programs in supporting long term outcomes for children. 

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