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Study Shows New Mexico’s PreK Initiative Continues to Improve Language and Math Abilities of Children


June 4, 2008

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – New findings from an ongoing study of New Mexico 4-year-olds who attended the state’s pre-K initiative show that in its second year of existence, the program continued to improve language, literacy and math development.

The study, “Impacts of New Mexico PreK on Children’s School Readiness at Kindergarten Entry: Results from the Second Year of a Growing Initiative” was conducted by the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University by Jason T. Hustedt, W. Steven Barnett, Kwanghee Jung and Alexandra Figueras.

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

• Children’s vocabulary scores increased by about 6 raw score points due to their participation in the program, representing a statistically significant improvement. This outcome is particularly important because the measure is indicative of general cognitive abilities and predictive of becoming a successful reader.

• Children’s early math scores increased by more than 2 raw score points due to their participation in New Mexico PreK. This is also statistically significant. Early math skills assessed included simple addition and subtraction, basic number concepts, telling time and counting money.

• Children’s scores on early literacy rose by about 14 percentage points for children attending over those who did not attend. Children who attended New Mexico PreK knew more letters, more letter-sound associations and were more familiar with words and book concepts.

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 preschool and kindergarten children.

“These gains are not only meaningful for the youngsters who achieved them, but they also show that New Mexico’s PreK Initiative continues on the right track,” said lead researcher Jason Hustedt. “It is heartening to see a program this new produce such positive results.”

NIEER Director Steve Barnett commended Governor Richardson and other New Mexico leaders responsible for the PreK Initiative. “The leadership in New Mexico clearly understands what those in some other states do not — in order to deliver the benefits, state pre-K must be high quality.”

New Mexico PreK achieves nine out of NIEER’s 10 quality benchmarks. The state serves more than 3,500 4-year-olds with the program. A large body of research 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 even lower crime rates.

A copy of the report is available on the NIEER website at the following url: http://nieer.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/NewMexicoRDD0608.pdf.

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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. NIEER is supported through grants from The Pew Charitable Trusts and others. The Pew Charitable Trusts (www.pewtrusts.org) is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life.