Does Pre-K work? The Research on Ten Early Childhood Programs — and What it Tells Us

Widely cited early childhood programs vary greatly in both design and results. The research on these programs shows neither that “pre-K works” nor that it doesn’t; rather, it shows that some early childhood programs yield particular outcomes, sometimes, for some children. Both the relevance and rigor of early childhood research is considerably weaker than many realize. A stronger knowledge base is urgently needed around the core policy question: what are the most effective early interventions for improving disadvantaged children’s lives?

Our current knowledge is insufficient to justify a large expansion of pre-K as the best path forward. Instead, policymakers should focus on advancing rigorous research, high-quality child care, and voluntary home visiting programs.

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