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External Resources, Resources | | The Brookings Institution

Puzzling it out: The current state of scientific knowledge on pre-kindergarten effects

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? 

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.

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