Evaluation: Results Are Favorable for New Mexico's PreK Program
Researchers evaluating New Mexico's preK program recommend that it be expanded because it has had a favorable impact on participants' learning. The preK classrooms in the program were particularly strong in "teaching and interactions," the researchers concluded, which takes into account general supervision, the use of language to develop reasoning, and interactions between staff and children and among children.
Children in the program improved significantly in language, literacy, and math compared with children who did not, according to data from the first three years of the program. The evaluation estimates that the rate of return to the state for every dollar invested is $5. It found that for each of the first three years of the program, participants scored significantly higher than their counterparts in early literacy and math skills. But children's language skills showed significant improvement only in the first two of the first three years of the program, which was established in 2005.
The researchers, who are from the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University, say that expanding the program is warranted. But they also made some recommendations for improvement. They said, for example, that support for early language and literacy is "fair" in the program, while support for early math skills is "poor." They recommended increasing opportunities for teacher training and ensuring that every lead teacher in the preK program have at least a bachelor's degree with specialized training in preschool education.