Via Joanne Jacobs: San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oklahoma and Georgia have seen no improvement on achievement test scores since implementing universal preschool programs. It also refers to a discouraging-sounding large-scale study of Tennessee’s preschool program, although it doesn’t give a specific citation (and I can’t find one online).
A couple things to keep in mind:
- All of the discouraging results cited here refer to achievement test scores. Possible impacts on mental health, later life outcomes, etc. are not discussed.
- The Tennessee finding is reported as excluding “at-risk kids.” We’ve always thought it very possible that early childhood care is most beneficial to at-risk children, and indeed that the gains for such children may account for the entire observed effects.
Our existing position on large-scale preschool programs is that no strong evidence exists for their effectiveness. The programs discussed here are unusually high-intensity programs, so the findings do call into question whether replicating the encouraging results of model programs is even theoretically possible.