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Do prekindergarten benchmarks affect fourth-grade academic outcomes?


Even with rapid and widespread expansion of state prekindergarten (pre-K) programs and improvements in these programs, there exists no population-level information regarding how a host of pre-K quality components can affect student medium-term (i.e., primary grade) academic outcomes at the state level. I leveraged multiple national datasets to estimate the effects of pre-K quality on seven cohorts of fourth-grade students’ math and English Language Arts (ELA) outcomes, including the National Institute for Early Education and Research (NIEER) for pre-K quality benchmark information between 2001 and present, and the Stanford Education Data Archive (SEDA) and National Assessment for Education Progress (NAEP) for student fourth-grade outcomes in corresponding years of pre-K. Using differences in quality benchmarks within and between all states to estimate effects on fourth-grade ELA and math with year and state fixed-effects, I found positive effects of increased quality benchmarks on ELA for Hispanic students and math for Asian students. To explore the mechanism with individual benchmarks, I found that Hispanic students improved their ELA and math performance when state pre-K met the screening and referral services requirement. These findings raise attention to how quality benchmarks can be used to improve academic achievement by policymakers tailoring their pre-K programs to different racial groups. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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