Policy Brief/Analysis

The Benefits of Prekindergarten for Middle Income Children

The Benefits of Prekindergarten for Middle Income Children

By Karen Schulman and W. Steven Barnett
NIEER Policy Report (March 2005)


Many children from middle-income families enter kindergarten behind their peers, often because the supply of early care and education programs in middle-income neighborhoods is no greater than in low-income neighborhoods. Yet research shows that high-quality preschool programs provide gains for middle-income children, particularly in letter-word identification and spelling scores.

This policy report analyzes what the research says about access to and gains made in high-quality preschool programs by children from middle-income families.

Recommendations include expanding publicly funded preschool programs to include middle-income children and strengthening standards for child care and early education programs.

The Authors

W. Steven (Steve) Barnett is a Board of Governors Professor and the founder and Senior Co-Director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University. Dr. Barnett’s work primarily focuses on public policies regarding early childhood education, child care, and child development.