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States Embracing PreK & Full-Day K Programs

Responding to the research, more state policy and political leaders are investing in early childhood education. Public pre-kindergarten programs are proliferating and thousands of children in more than half a dozen states will move from half to full-day kindergarten classes in fall 2007.

Seven state legislatures set aside money for all-day kindergarten - among them Montana, North Dakota and Utah, which don't have state pre-K programs - and a record 29 governors sought and received from their legislatures increased funding for their state preK programs.

In a roundup of state legislative action this past spring, Pauline Vu of reported, "Currently, 39 states have a state-funded preschool program, although the majority of them only cover low-income kids. Only three states -- Georgia, Florida and Oklahoma -- offer voluntary preschool to all 4-year-olds. Illinois last year passed a law to create the country's first universal program for 3-year-olds, as well as 4-year-olds, but the program is being phased in."

According to the report, "It's all part of a push to get more kids learning at a young age when, research has shown, their brains still are developing and they're most likely to soak in information. Advocates also say that students who have attended preschool are less likely to commit crimes later and more likely to attend college, get jobs and pay taxes."

Research Supporting PreK, Full-Day Kindergarten Continues to Grow

Moreover, the research-based evidence of all of the social and economic benefits of expanded high quality preK education continues to roll in.

  • Effects of a School-Based, Early Childhood Intervention on Adult Health and Well-Being
    A longitudinal study of participants in a Chicago public schools program serving preK through third grade students. It reported that at age 24, program participants had acquired more education and were less likely to commit crimes than those who did not receive the same level of service.
    Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (August 2007).

  • State Fact Sheets from Enriching Children, Enriching the Nation
    Fact sheets for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The research shows that quality preK programs that either serve all 3- and 4-year-olds or target children in the poorest families begin to pay for themselves in as little as one year and no more than 13 years, while saving states and the federal government billions over decades.
    Economic Policy Institute (EPI) (July 2007)
  • The Effects of the New Mexico PreK Initiative on Young Children's School Readiness
    This study shows that New Mexico's preK initiative is paying off for its four-year-old participants in greater improvement in early language, literacy, and math development.
    National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University (August 2007)

Findings of the Chicago study on the long-term effects of early childhood education are similar to results consistently reported by other well-known longitudinal study projects, including:

The latest EPI information on states shows that Texas, for example, could save billions of public dollars over the upcoming decades by immediately investing in pre-kindergarten programs. The research contends the programs would begin paying for themselves within eight years.

According to the Texas data, investment in quality universal preK would generate $75.9 billion in total benefits by 2050. A more targeted preK program concentrated on vulnerable populations, could yield $37.8 billion in total benefits.

PreK Helps Produce More Productive Citizens

EPI says the data shows that "children who participate in high-quality pre-K programs perform better in school, earn higher salaries when they enter the workforce, and engage in less criminal activity.

In its State Preschool Yearbook, NIEER reports the trends in legislative action, which this year include increased enrollment and total spending by state governments.


» Early Ed Gains Momentum in States (June 2007) - Pauline Vu's report in about a roundup of state legislative action.

Related Materials

» Policy Makers Should Consider Full-Day Preschool - A study by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) finds that the benefits of full-day preschool over half-day programs are significant.

»Taking Steps Toward PK-3 Success (2007) (PDF, 1.66 MB, 16pp) This publication identifies strategies to help improve teaching and learning environments at the PK-3 levels. NEA.

» Full-Day Kindergarten: An Advocacy Guide (PDF, 957 KB, 52pp) - This publication offers Association leaders and staff and other early childhood education advocates tools, resources, and research that will help them in securing full-day kindergarten programs in their states. NEA.


August 2007