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An analysis of the costs to provide high-quality and individualized emergent literacy support in pre-K classrooms


Emergent literacy skills are a critical base for later academic success. Since gaps in reading skills appear as early as kindergarten, pre-K programs are compelled to increase the quality of whole class literacy instruction and to provide additional personalized support as needed. Given that additional personnel are needed to do both, there is a policy tension: hiring certified specialists that follow an evidence-based approach or utilizing a more affordable option that uses unpaid volunteer instructors where quality may be mixed. In this study, we explore an alternative emergent literacy model called the Minnesota Reading Corps (MRC) Pre-K Program and analyze its associated costs. The MRC Pre-K model places stipend AmeriCorps members into existing pre-K classrooms and integrates coaching and supervisory support from certified instructors, making enhanced whole-class literacy instruction and at-risk support possible. Using the ingredients method (Levin et al., 2018), we estimate that the average incremental cost per student of the MRC Pre-K Program is approximately $1,300 per year. We find that the majority of costs are borne by the MRC program (38%), with a much smaller portion of the costs borne by schools (25%), primarily from a reallocation of school staff time. These results demonstrate the opportunity of MRC with trained AmeriCorps members to increase early literacy support at a low-cost to schools. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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