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Large randomized trial finds state pre-k program has adverse effects on academic achievement.


  • This report discusses new findings from a well-conducted randomized controlled trial (RCT) of Tennessee’s voluntary prekindergarten program for low-income children.
  • This study is the first large RCT of a state-funded pre-k program and one of only two such studies ever conducted of a public preschool program in the United States. As such, it provides uniquely credible evidence in the area of early childhood education.
  • While the study found positive short-term effects on child achievement (at the end of the pre-k year), these effects dissipated as children entered elementary school and turned modestly negative by third grade. At the third-grade follow-up, the control group scored significantly higher in math and science achievement than the pre-k group.
  • We offer possible reasons for the adverse effects, and suggest that the program be reformed by incorporating evidence-based funding criteria aimed at greatly improving its effectiveness over time.
  • A thoughtful comment from the study authors follows the main report.


“What did the Tennessee study find? Like the Head Start RCT, it found positive effects on student achievement at the end of the pre-k year (e.g., their ability to identify letters and words), but these effects dissipated as children entered elementary school and—in the case of Tennessee—turned modestly negative by third grade, with the control group outperforming the pre-k group in math and science achievement.”


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On the other hand, pre-K provides more jobs for Democrat-voting government employees. If it’s bad for kids, well, that hardly makes this unique.


h/t GR


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