As policymakers contemplate expanding preschool opportunities for low-income children, one possibility is to fund 2, rather than 1 year of Head Start for children at ages 3 and 4. Another option is to offer 1 year of Head Start followed by 1 year of pre-K. We ask which of these options is more effective.
This study uses data from the Oklahoma pre-K study to examine these
“pathways” into kindergarten using regression
discontinuity to estimate the effects of each age 4 program, and
score weighting to address selection.
The study finds that
children attending Head Start at age 3 develop stronger prereading
in a high-quality pre-kindergarten at age 4
compared with attending Head Start at age 4. Pre-K and Head Start were
linked to improvements in children’s prewriting
skills or premath skills. This suggests that some impacts of early
programs may be related to the sequencing of
learning experiences to more academic programming.