A meta-analysis of almost 60 years’ worth of high-quality early childhood education (ECE) studies found that participating in ECE programs significantly reduced special education placement and grade retention, and led to increased graduation rates.
Dana Charles McCoy and colleagues examined data from studies spanning 1960-2016. All had to meet strict inclusion criteria and address ECE’s effects on special education placement, grade retention, or dropout rates, yielding 22 studies. Seven were randomized controlled studies, four were quasi-experimental, and eleven used non-randomized assignment and compared groups who were equivalent at baseline.
Results showed statistically significant effects of ECE.
- Compared to students who did not attend ECE, participants were 8.1 percentage points less likely to be placed in special education,
- Moreover, participants were 8.3 percentage points less likely to be held back a grade, and 11.4 percentage points more likely to graduate high school.
Authors discussed how these results supported the idea of expanding ECE programming in the U.S.
Source (Open Access): McCoy, D. C., Yoshikawa, H., Ziol-Guest, K. M., Duncan, G. J., Schindler, H. S., Magnuson, K., … & Shonkoff, J. P. (2017). Impacts of early childhood education on medium-and long-term educational outcomes. Educational Researcher, 46(8), 474-487.