New Evaluation Shows Seattle Preschool Program Making Progress

New Brunswick, NJ – The Seattle Preschool Program up for renewal by voters next month has continued to improve and now provides children with classroom quality levels associated with strong gains in learning and development, according to a rigorous evaluation study released today by the National Institute for Early Education Research.

“The evaluation finds that SPP quality has steadily continued to improve and quality now exceeds that in some major city and state early childhood programs,” said Milagros Nores, Ph.D., NIEER Co-Director for Research and lead author. “Children in SPP made gains in all measured domains, including language, literacy and mathematics.”

This is the final year of a four-year demonstration phase for the Seattle Preschool Program, established in 2014 by voter approval and up for renewal in a levy vote next month. The city Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL) launched SPP in the 2015–16 school year and has been expanding every year since. Download Report

SPP now includes 48 classrooms and 13 family child care centers, serving about 1,200 children throughout the city. Average quality remained fairly consistent between both classrooms and family child care providers, which were added this year. Children’s gains in language, literacy and mathematics were larger than would be expected based on maturation (increased age) alone. There were no large differences in gains by income, gender, race or ethnicity, or language.

Most children enrolled (74%) were 4-year-olds, including about a third (29%) who were dual language learners. Languages spoken include Spanish, Vietnamese, Amharic, Mandarin, Somali, and Oromo, among others.

This report is the third SPP evaluation conducted by NIEER, in partnership with Cultivate Learning at the University of Washington. Evaluations have assessed program quality, and measured children’s gains in receptive vocabulary, literacy, math and executive functions. See Year One and Year Two report on the NIEER website.

Recommendations include building on SPP success by continuing to improve quality of instruction, integrating content in children’s activities and supporting sustained, reflective thinking as well as personal care routines that contribute to good health.

The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at the Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, conducts independent, objective research to inform early childhood education policy promoting healthy development for all young children to succeed in school and later life.