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New Mexico PreK Initiative

Its Effects on Children's School Readiness

New Mexico's preK initiative is paying off for its four-year-old participants in greater improvement in early language, literacy, and math development.

That's among the findings of The Effects of the New Mexico PreK Initiative on Young Children's School Readiness, a study from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University. The research was conducted by Jason T. Hustedt, W. Steven Barnett, and Kwanghee Jung.

The study adds to a large body of research that shows that high-quality preschool programs can lead to increases in school success, higher test scores, fewer school dropouts, higher graduation rates, less special education, and lower crime rates.

The Summary

The study estimated the effects of preschool education programs on entering kindergartners' academic skills. With the assistance of the New Mexico Public Education Department and the Children, Youth and Families Department, researchers collected data on 886 preschool and kindergarten children in the fall of 2006.

The NIEER study found that as a result of attending the New Mexico program at age 4:

  • Children showed gains in vocabulary that were 54 percent greater than the gains of children without the program. This outcome is particularly important because the measure is indicative of general cognitive abilities and predictive of becoming a successful reader.

  • Preschool education increased children's gains in math skills by 40 percent compared to children's growth without the program. Skills tested include basic number concepts, simple addition and subtraction, telling time and counting money.

  • The New Mexico preschool program had strong effects on children's understanding of print concepts. The program produced a 26 percent increase in growth in print awareness among children enrolled compared to growth in this domain by children without the program, nearly doubling growth over the year due to the program. Children who attended New Mexico PreK before entering kindergarten knew more letters, more letter-sound associations and were more familiar with words and book concepts.

The Full Report

The Effects of the New Mexico PreK Initiative on Young Children's School Readiness (2007) (PDF, 144 KB, 17pp) (The National Institute for Early Education Research, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey)