In “Puzzling it out: The current state of scientific knowledge on pre-kindergarten effects” (PDF), a task force comprised of social scientists from Brookings and Duke University lists six consensus statements on what we know about the effects of pre-K and highlights the importance of gathering further evidence to answer three important questions:
- What features of pre-K programs, specifically, put children on a positive developmental trajectory? What’s the best way to scale up small pre-K programs to a school-district or state-wide level?
- How can we use evaluations of an earlier generation of programs to guide the development of today’s pre-K programs?
The consensus statement is part of a broader report titled “The current state of scientific knowledge on pre-kindergarten effects” (PDF).
The Task Force includes Deborah A. Phillips of Georgetown University, Mark W. Lipsey of Vanderbilt University, Kenneth A. Dodge of Duke University, Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution, Daphna Bassok of the University of Virginia, Margaret R. Burchinal of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Greg J. Duncan of the University of California-Irvine, Mark Dynarski of the Brookings Institution, Katherine A. Magnuson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Christina Weiland of the University of Michigan.
All members of the Task Force agreed on six consensus statements, which include:
- Children’s early learning trajectories depend on the quality of their learning experiences not only before and during their pre-K year, but also following the pre-K year;
- There is often greater improvement for economically disadvantaged children and dual-language learners after a year of per-k than there is for more advantaged and English-proficient children;
- Among the effectiveness factors that may make a difference are curricula that build foundational skills, professional development and coaching for teachers, and organized and engaging classrooms;
- Convincing evidence on the longer-term impacts of contemporary scaled-up pre-K programs on academic outcomes and school progress is sparse, precluding broad conclusions.