Clearing Up Misunderstandings with "Getting the Facts Right on Pre-K"

Monday, February 25, 2013

Contact: Jen Fitzgerald, 848-932-3138, jfitzgerald@nieer.org

New Brunswick, NJ – The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) today released a report that summarizes important findings from research that are particularly relevant to debates over President Obama’s proposed new plan for universal pre-K as well ongoing debates over Head Start. Since the President announced his intention to support a new federal investment in state pre-K programs in the State of the Union address earlier this month, there has been increased media and public attention to preschool education and its benefits. As the debate about pre-K has progressed, some misinformation has been disseminated.  NIEER’s report corrects common errors and introduces more accurate and complete information into the debate.

The new report, “Getting the Facts Right on Pre-K and the President’s Pre-K Proposal,” addresses four key questions:

1. Does high-quality pre-K education have lasting benefits?

2. What is the evidence for the $7 to $1 return to the proposed investments in high-quality pre-K?

3. Do non-disadvantaged children benefit from pre-K, and is a targeted or a universal approach more effective?

4. Are large-scale public pre-K programs, including the federal Head Start program, effective?

NIEER’s report cautions readers that, “Both science and public policy are best advanced based on impartial analysis of all the available evidence. No single study stands on its own, much less provides the definitive answers to policy questions on its own. This requires that scientists and policymakers consider all the evidence rather than simply select a few studies that fit their preconceived notions.”

Based on decades of research on public preschool programs, including Head Start and various state initiatives, the report finds that large-scale public pre-K programs have indeed succeeded in producing positive outcomes for all children.  Furthermore, investment in high-quality universal pre-K can produce better results for disadvantaged children and greater benefits to the nation than a more targeted approach.

The report is on the web at http://nieer.org/publications/policy-reports/getting-facts-right-pre-k-and-presidents-pre-k-proposal and its author Dr. Steven Barnett is available for comment on its contents.

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The National Institute for Early Education Research (www.nieer.org), a unit of the Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, supports early childhood education policy by providing objective, nonpartisan information based on research.