Research Report

Impacts of the New Mexico PreK Initiative by Children’s Race/Ethnicity


  • Overall, children in New Mexico PreK showed gains in language, literacy, and math
  • When estimating impacts by race/ethnicity, White and Hispanic groups benefited most
  • Impacts for Native American children were modest and less consistent


New Mexico is one of 44 U.S. states offering a public pre-K program for children at age 4. State models for pre-K vary in terms of availability, policies related to classroom quality, and populations of children served. In this study, we pool data from five successive cohorts of children (total N = 5218) using regression-discontinuity models to estimate the impacts of participating in New Mexico’s pre-K program on young children’s language, literacy, and math skills at kindergarten entry. Positive, statistically significant impacts of pre-K were found for each of these academic domains. Due to the high level of diversity in our sample, it was also possible to examine pre-K impacts separately for White, Hispanic, and Native American children. The largest impacts were found for White and Hispanic children, with less consistent and more modest impacts for Native American children. These findings suggest that while New Mexico’s pre-K program generated academic benefits for children, not all groups of children benefited equally, and further information is needed to understand the reasons for these differences.

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The Authors

Kwanghee Jung, an assistant research professor, brings to NIEER expertise in quantitative data analysis and is working on studies that analyze the effect of participation in state-funded preschool on children’s learning and development.

Allison Friedman-Krauss is an Assistant Research Professor at NIEER where she is also the Associate Director for Policy Research and Director of the Infant and Toddler Policy Research Center. 

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.