Pre-K Researchers Can’t Get Past The Third Grade

| October 21, 2015

The Debate Around the Vanderbilt Preschool Study

James Heckman | Hechinger Report

Disadvantaged children who receive quality early childhood development have much better education, employment, social and health outcomes as adults, the vast majority of research shows. Unfortunately, this good news is getting lost in the current obsession over third-grade test scores. This is the case with the recent debate around the new Vanderbilt study on the Tennessee pre-K program.

Opponents and proponents of early childhood education alike are quickly turning third-grade assessments into a lopsided and deterministic milestone instead of an appropriate developmental evaluation in the lifecycle of skills formation.

There is a reoccurring trend in some early childhood education studies: disadvantaged children who attend preschool arrive at kindergarten more intellectually and emotionally prepared than peers who have had no preschool. Yet by third grade, their math and literacy scores generally pull into parity. Many critics call this fadeout and claim that quality early childhood education has no lasting effect. Not so, and not by a long shot…

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Category: Education, General

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