When New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in late April an initiative to offer free full-day preschool for 3 year olds, it seemed like an inevitable next step in a country whose investment in public preschool has been growing at a fast clip.
Though free pre-K for 3 year olds is still rare — New York is one of the few cities in the nation to offer it — public pre-K for 4 year olds now serves almost 30 percent of American children in that age group. In fact, 42 states and Washington, D.C., have adopted the infrastructure for public pre-K programs for 4-year-olds, many of them free to low-income families.
But with New York’s initiative alone costing up to $1 billion and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos remaining silent on whether federal funds will be made available, the question arises: does pre-K really make a difference?
df”>The Current State of Scientific Knowledge of Pre-Kindergarten Effects” reviews “the evidence on the impact of state-funded pre-kindergarten programs” by some of the biggest names in early-childhood education. Chief among its conclusions and recommendations is that children who attend public pre-K programs are better prepared for kindergarten than those who do not.
The team that compiled the report also found that low-income children see the greatest gains — particularly those who primarily speak another language at home. “There’s substantial evidence now that, because they’re learning two languages at the same time,
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