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Study: High-Quality Pre-K for All Could Eliminate Reading Gaps

A new analysis of reading and math scores in two of the country's highest-performing public preschool programs (Tulsa and Boston) concludes that high-quality preschool could help children of all backgrounds enter kindergarten on an even playing field. 

The study, commissioned by the Center for American Progress, a policy think tank, and conducted by the National Institutes for Early Education Research, determined that universal high-quality preschool could reduce the achievement gap at kindergarten entry in math by 78 percent for Hispanic students and 45 percent for African-American students. The gap in reading would be virtually eliminated for both groups, the analysis found.

Students from low-income families would also close the gap with higher-income families by 27 percent in math and 41 percent in reading.

"This research demonstrates what we are losing out on by not implementing a high-quality universal pre-K program on a national scale, and what we stand to gain if we move toward a national, public solution to pre-K," said Katie Hamm, senior director of early-childhood policy at CAP, in a statement.

The report used the average effect of the two high-quality programs in Tulsa and Boston to estimate the effect similar programs would have on the national population.

Compounding the current gaps in academic performance, according to the report is the fact that both low-income and black and Hispanic students are accessing high-quality preschool at lower rates than high-income students and white students.  A universal program, therefore, would most benefit black, Hispanic and low-income students, the paper argues.

Read the full report.

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