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New Mexico PreK Significantly Improves Key Academic Foundations for Children


November 18, 2009

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – New Mexico’s state-funded PreK program significantly improved language, literacy and math for the children who attended over children who did not and the estimated rate of return is $5 for every $1 invested, according to a new report released today at New Mexico’s Legislative Education Study Committee.

The study, The New Mexico PreK Evaluation: Results from the Initial Four Years of a New State Preschool Initiative, found that New Mexico PreK improves children’s readiness for kindergarten in key academic areas, across different types of PreK settings. Study findings were presented to the legislative committee by Drs. Ellen Frede and Jason Hustedt of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University.

“Positive impacts of PreK were found in each of three content areas important to early academic success – language, literacy, and math,” said Hustedt, report author. “Findings in literacy and mathematics were statistically significant in analyses for each school year of New Mexico PreK. Overall, classroom quality has been good as well.”

New Mexico’s state-funded prekindergarten initiative, known as New Mexico PreK, was established in 2005. One of the most recently started prekindergarten initiatives in the United States, it has expanded quickly during the past four years.

The $5 rate of return in New Mexico for every dollar invested was determined as part of the study’s benefit-cost analysis. The report said that New Mexico PreK participants are estimated to have better educational outcomes that produce higher earnings. They will be less likely to engage in criminal behavior, to be victims of abuse and neglect, and to use welfare services. The return to society as a whole across the country was even higher.

The program, now in its fifth year, is administered by New Mexico’s Public Education Department (PED) and Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD). The study evaluated the differences between the programs offered by the two departments. “PreK programs operated by PED and CYFD have very similar impacts on young children,” said Hustedt.

The State of New Mexico funded NIEER to carry out a comprehensive evaluation of New Mexico PreK, beginning in its first year of operation. This evaluation has examined the benefits received by children who participate in PreK, investigated PreK classroom quality, conducted an economic impact analysis of New Mexico PreK, and gathered information about parent and provider perceptions toward the PreK initiative.

The report is available at http://nieer.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/new-mexico-initial-4-years.pdf.

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