Are Government Pre-K Programs Working?
A new study from the center-left think tank Brookings Institute challenges claims that government Pre-K programs help children.
The Brookings Institute study analyzed each state’s level of enrollment in its government Pre-K program and correlated those numbers with scores from five years later from the state’s fourth-graders on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
According to the study their conclusion was:
[I]ncreased investment in state pre-K… does not enhance student achievement meaningfully, if at all.
The study also concluded:
Under the most favorable scenario for state pre-K that can be constructed from these data…increasing pre-K enrollment by 10 percent would raise a state’s adjusted NAEP scores by a little less than one point five years later and have no influence on the unadjusted NAEP scores.
Well I guess they were incorrect.
An article in the American Spectator also informed us of another study, that study analyzed the Tennessee Voluntary Pre-K Program and produced the following findings:
“fade out” and even reversal of positive achievement effects by grades 2-3, so that pre-K non-participants were outperforming participants;
more disciplinary infractions and special-education placements for pre-K participants by grade 3 than for non-participants; and
no effect on attendance or retention in later grades. Regarding academic achievement, Brookings’s recent findings align with these.
Even more concerning is that the Tennessee Pre-K found that we may be doing emotional harm to these young children, they documented:
Twelve of approximately 30 studies linked above discuss declines in social emotional learning (SEL) dispositions after pre-K involvement. Because SEL is now presented as a magic bullet in improving academic and life outcomes, especially in low-income preschool children, and because preschool has been heavily laden with SEL standards and interventions for decades, it’s tragically ironic that research shows this significant emotional harm to preschool children. So much for the paeans (Pee-in Praise) to SEL.
We implemented these Pre-K programs and from multiple studies now, one of them coming from a “center-left” think tank, appeared to have failed to produce the results that were intended and in some cases actually may be harming these children.
We tried and it did not work, I believe that $7.6 billion dollars could be better spent somewhere else so it is time to shut these programs down and try another approach if needed.
What do you think is the chance the Congress will shut these programs down or do you believe like I do that they will instead say we need to spend even more money to make these programs work?