Does Pre-K Work?
Widely cited early childhood programs vary greatly in both design and results. The research on these programs shows neither that “pre-K works” not 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.