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Assessing Proposals for Preschool and Kindergarten: Essential Information for Parents, Taxpayers and Policymakers

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Publication Date: May 2006

Publisher(s): Reason Foundation

Author(s): Darcy Olsen; Lisa Snell

Topic: Education (Education policy and planning)

Type: Report


Proposals for universal preschool and all-day kindergarten are an increasingly popular policy solution for everything from low academic achievement, to reducing crime, to lowering the dropout rate.

To help determine the efficacy of early education programs, we examine the results of some of the programs considered to be early education models--including, Perry Preschool, Chicago Child Parent Studies, Abecedarian, and Head Start--and find the research to be flawed and therefore of questionable value. We also review information from the National Center for Education Statistics, which reports no lasting reading, math, or science achievement differences between children who attend half-day and full-day kindergarten. We also examine the results of the National Assessment of Education Progress in Georgia and Oklahoma, where universal preschool has been fully implemented without quantifiable benefit. We find the widespread adoption of preschool and full-day kindergarten is unlikely to improve student achievement.