Measuring the Effects of Early Childhood Education
Friday, Jan. 5, 2018 2:30 PM - 4:30 PM
- Chair: Chloe Gibbs, University of Notre Dame
The Impact of Full-day Kindergarten Expansions on Academic Achievement
AbstractIn the United States, full-day kindergarten has proliferated in the past two decades as states and localities have rapidly expanded their provision of kindergarten in full-day settings. Participation in full-day kindergarten eclipsed half-day in 1995 and now constitutes approximately three-quarters of kindergarten students. In contrast to the existing, limited literature on full-day kindergarten impact, which focuses on participant effects, this study provides the first evidence on the systemic impact of provision by focusing on subsequent student achievement in places that expand full-day kindergarten offerings. Leveraging variation across states and—within one state, across districts—and over time, this research investigates the impact of expansions on mean student achievement, in the third through eighth grades, and on Hispanic-white and black-white test score gaps. Full-day kindergarten contributes to improved overall academic performance in both reading and math in the later grades, but may in fact exacerbate achievement gaps. As full-day kindergarten has evolved from a targeted to near-universal intervention, the findings have important implications for the broader policy discourse around early childhood investments and inequality.
A Reanalysis of Impacts of the Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten Program
AbstractThe current paper provides a number of estimates of the long-run effects of assignment to the Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten Program (TNVPK). In a previous analyses of these data, Lipsey, Farran, and Hoffer (2015) reported that the program produced substantial gains on student achievement at the end of preschool (b= .32 sd), but no impacts in kindergarten and first grade. Surprisingly, they found negative program effects at the end of grades 2 (b= -.15) and 3 (b= -.13). These results have garnered much attention as they suggest that academic preschool might harm the long-run achievement of participants. Although the TNVPK study was designed as a lottery-based RCT, Lipsey and colleagues (2015) used propensity score matching to analyze program effects. We rely on random assignment variation to estimate program effects through grade 3. We estimate ITT effects based solely on the lottery results as well as TOT effects using 2SLS models.
We find some evidence of baseline imbalance, with the treatment group less Hispanic (p = 0.021) and the control group scoring higher on 3 of the 4 baseline Woodcock Johnson reading tests (p values ranged from 0.003 to 0.066). The ITT effect of .19 sd at the end of preschool fades to 0 in kindergarten and first grade. Point estimates are negative but statistically insignificant in second and third grade. We also adopt a number of approaches to adjust for the considerable non-participation of families in the study, attrition, and to the definition of participation.
Does Universal Preschool Hit the Target? Program Access and Preschool Impacts
AbstractThis paper uses the rich diversity in state rules governing access to public preschool programs in the U.S. to study the relative cost efficacy of universal programs for poor populations. Using age-eligibility rules to construct an instrument for attendance, I find that universal preschool generates substantial cognitive test score gains for poor 4-year-olds. Preschool programs targeted toward poor children do not. These findings are robust to the definition of poverty, comparison group, and controls for test scores earlier in life, and cross-state differences in demographics and alternative care options are not decisive factors. Benefit-cost ratios of universal programs remain favorable despite their relatively high costs per poor child. An auxiliary analysis suggests that peer effects are an important contributor to universal programs’ higher productivity.
- I2 - Education and Research Institutions
- I3 - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty