Kindergarten readiness impacts of the Arkansas Better Chance State Prekindergarten Initiative.

By Hustedt, J. T., Jung, K., Barnett W. S. & Williams, T. (2015).

Enrollment in state-funded pre-K programs prior to kindergarten entry has become increasingly common. As each state develops its own model for pre-K, rigorous studies of the impacts of state-specific programs are needed. This study investigates impacts of the Arkansas Better Chance (ABC) initiative at kindergarten entry using a regression-discontinuity design. In this approach, study selection criteria are known and modeled, rather than simply comparing children who attended ABC with potentially dissimilar children who did not attend. Statistically significant impacts of ABC pre-K participation were found across three key academic domains related to children’s kindergarten readiness—vocabulary, mathematics, and print awareness skills. These results suggest that the ABC pre-K program is effective and thus that it provides a potential model for expansion of large-scale public pre-K initiatives in other states.