Research Report

Preschool Programs Can Boost School Readiness

by William T. Gormley, Jr., Deborah Phillips, Ted Gayer
(June 2008)

Oklahoma’s state-funded preschool for all program boosts children’s skills dramatically, whether they are from disadvantaged families or middle class families, concludes this study from Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute and Center for Research on Children in the United States. William T. Gormley and colleagues measured the skills of 3,500 incoming kindergartners in Tulsa, finding that those who had been enrolled in the state’s preschool for all program had better reading, math and writing skills than those who spent time in federally funded Head Start programs or attended no public preschool program.

Tulsa’s state-funded pre-K program boosted children’s pre-reading skills nine months ahead of other kids’, pre-writing skills eight months ahead and pre-math skills five months. The study also found that Head Start boosted children’s skills but to a lesser extent. The new findings appear in the June 27, 2008 edition of the journal Science.