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Untangling the Evidence on Preschool Effectiveness: Insights for Policymakers


"This report finds that investments in quality preschool programs bolster student success. Students who attend preschool programs are more prepared for school and are less likely to be identified as having special needs or to be held back in elementary school than children who did not attend preschool. Studies also show clear positive effects on children's early literacy and mathematics skills.

It examines research on programs that succeed in preparing children for school identifies important elements of quality. Those elements include:
  • sufficient learning time and small class sizes with low student-teacher ratios;
  • well-prepared teachers who provide engaging interactions and classroom environments that support learning;
  • ongoing support for teachers, including coaching and mentoring, with program assessments that measure the quality of classroom interactions and provide actionable feedback for teachers to improve instruction;
  • research-based, developmentally appropriate early learning standards and curricula;
  • assessments that consider children's academic, social-emotional, and physical progress and contribute to instructional and program planning; and
  • meaningful family engagement.
Most or all of these elements are present in the programs that demonstrate the strongest and most persistent impacts on children. The research also indicates that to determine the full benefits of an effective preschool program, one must look beyond the preschool years."