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Research reports on early education from NIEER and outside organizations

Research Reports

The Effects of the Arkansas Better Chance Program on Young Children’s School Readiness


January 1, 2007
OutcomesState & LocalState Pre-K Evaluations

NIEER study of Arkansas' state-funded preschool education program shows significant improvement in the early language, literacy and mathematical development of 4-year-old children.

The Effects of the Arkansas Better Chance Program on Young Children’s School Readiness By Jason T. Hustedt, W. Steven Barnett, Kwanghee Jung and Jessica Thomas January 2007 Download the complete report This NIEER report estimates the effects of the Arkansas Better Chance Program (ABC) on entering kindergartners’ academic skills using a rigorous research design. Receptive vocabulary, early literacy and early math skills were assessed in a sample of 911 children from across the state of Arkansas. The study finds the ABC Program has statistically significant and meaningful impacts on the early language, literacy and mathematical development of the 4-year-old children participating in the program. Specifically, the NIEER study found that as a result of attending the Arkansas program at age 4:

  • Children showed gains in vocabulary that were 31 percent higher than the gains of children without the program. This translates into an additional four months of progress in vocabulary growth due to the preschool program at age 4. This outcome is particularly important because the measure is indicative of general cognitive abilities and predictive of becoming a successful reader.
  • Preschool increased children’s gains in math skills by 37 percent compared to children’s growth without the program. Skills tested include basic number concepts, simple addition and subtraction, telling time and counting money.
  • The Arkansas preschool program had strong effects on children’s understanding of print concepts. The program produced a 116 percent increase in growth in print awareness among children enrolled compared to growth of children without the program. Children who attended the preschool before entering kindergarten know more letters, more letter-sound associations and are more familiar with words and book concepts.

The report is the first in a series of reports on a 5-year longitudinal study that will document the effects of the Arkansas Better Chance Program over time.