Early childhood education is associated with positive high school outcomes, including achievement and engagement. In a recently published article in Child Development, Amadon and colleagues reported on a longitudinal study of the effects of early childhood education on high school performance.
The study tracked 4033 students enrolled in Tulsa Public Schools (TPS) kindergartens in Oklahoma from 2006 to 2007. Among them, 44% attended the public universal pre-K program, 14% attended Tulsa’s Community Action Project (CAP) Head Start program, and the rest did not attend either program. The study tracked students’ attendance, academic skills, course selection and completion, and grade retention. The results show that students who attended the TPS pre-K program missed 1.5 fewer days (d = −.10) and were less likely to be chronically absent or retained in grade. And students who attended Head Start missed three fewer days than the other two groups (p = .053) but with no other academic and engagement advantages. Subgroup analyses of gender and free lunch are consistent with these results, but show that students of color who attended the pre-K program were more likely to be engaged in high school than their peers who had not attended preschool or had attended Head Start.
The authors concluded that the students who attended the TPS pre-K program were less likely to fail courses, were more likely to participate in advanced classes in high school, and were less likely to be retained in grade. Public officials can use this evidence to encourage early childhood programs in their communities.
Amadon, S., Gormley, W. T., Claessens, A., Magnuson, K., Hummel-Price, D., & Romm, K. (2022). Does early childhood education help to improve high school outcomes? Results from Tulsa. Child Development, FirstPublished. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.13752