08/30/2008 - Shikha Dalmia and Lisa Snell misrepresent decades of research on the lasting benefits of quality pre-K research that has been accepted by academics and policymakers across the political spectrum.
The authors cherry-pick data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Contrary to their claim, fourth-grade NAEP scores rose in Georgia from 1992 to 2007. A national study by RAND in 2000 found that preschool was one of a number of factors that contributed to higher NAEP scores across the country. More importantly, rigorous studies like the five-year evaluation of pre-K in Tulsa, published in the journal Science, found significant positive impacts of Oklahoma's program for disadvantaged and middle-class children.
These findings are similar to decades of research in peer-reviewed journals. A summary of 123 preschool studies spanning 40 years, forthcoming in Teachers College Record, finds significant and long-lasting effects; the more rigorous the study, the larger the impacts. Few other educational reform measures have been scrutinized more intensively.
Finally, the authors suggest that support for pre-K is limited to Democrats. This year, with leadership from both Republican and Democratic governors, 32 states are increasing their investment in pre-K by more than $300 million.
Children don't need protection from pre-K. Their parents, and the public, deserve protection from such disregard for the facts.
Pew Center on the States