There’s no argument about the success-building power of high quality pre-k in the early learning years of children. But there are critics of the early education pillar still harping about flawed studies that claim by 3rd grade the impact of pre-k on students diminishes, or fades out.
Tulsa students who attended pre-k outperformed their peers on standardized math tests 8 years later and were more likely to be enrolled in advanced or honors courses and were less likely to have been held back, according to the new large study. The study from Georgetown University looked at the performance of 8th graders in Tulsa, which has had a universal pre-k program for 4-year olds since the late ‘90s, run by the school district. That model is comparable in quality to Pennsylvania’s pre-k programs, although ours are delivered in a mixed private/public system.
For every $1 spent on pre-k in Tulsa, the return on investment was $2.10 because pre-k reduced the number of children held back each year. Other factors would likely increase it, and those studies are continuing.
In Tulsa, pre-k costs about $10,000 per child. That’s $1,500 more than PA pays for pre-k. But now 7 in 10 Tulsa children attend pre-k, a level that triggers improvements in elementary education because teachers don’t need to spend as much time with students who enter school without the basic cognitive and social/emotional skills. But Pennsylvania doesn’t have that critical mass.
Tulsa, Oklahoma did this — a poor city in a poor state with low funding for education. Which begs the question, echoed by former governors Rendell and Schweiker this week, “Pre-K Works, So Why Not PA?” Right now there are seats for only about 36% of eligible children to attend a state-funded pre-k program. We hope you’ll get in touch with Governor Wolf and your state legislators.
After all, budget season is just around the corner.
FINAL WEEKEND! We’re so close to reaching our new GoFundMe goal and announcing our 2018 week of free dental care for kids is a go! Please give and spread the word before the campaign closes this Sunday at midnight.
“If the trend we documented continues…employer-sponsored coverage will become a less affordable option for working families. [We] should be looking at ways to ensure all families can cover their children through a program like CHIP.” Kathleen Noonan and David Rubin, Policy Lab, CHOP.