Children who attend pre-k and half-day kindergarten are better readers in third grade than children with no preschool but full-day kindergarten, concludes Starting Out Right by Jim Hull of the Center for Public Education. Third-grade reading is a strong predictor of school success.
The benefit was the greatest for the neediest students, children from low-income, Hispanic, black and immigrant families. English Language Learners showed especially strong gains. However, children of less-educated mothers did not benefit as much as others.
The study didn’t try to evaluate the quality of children’s pre-K program, notes NCTQ, which speculates children of less-educated mothers were more likely to attend pre-K programs with ineffective teachers.
The feds should require pre-k programs such as Head Start to evaluate teacher quality, NCTQ advocates, citing Watching Teachers Work, a study on observing pre-k and early elementary teachers in the classroom.
Disadvantaged children rarely participate in “stimulating, content-rich conversations that provide them with the cognitive and social-emotional skills they need to succeed throughout their years in school,” Watching Teachers Work finds. “Observation tools allow for measurements that are far less subjective than many of the checklists and rubrics currently used today,” the report says.