In 2013, preschool education received more attention in the media and public policy circles than it has for some time, in part because of a series of high-profile proposals to expand access to quality pre-K. The scientific basis for these proposed expansions of quality pre-K is impressive. This paper brings to bear the full weight of the evidence to address the following questions:
- What does all the evidence say about effective preschool education and long-term cognitive benefits?
- What are the estimated effects of state and local pre-K programs in more recent years?
- Is Head Start ineffective?
- Can government improve the quality of public preschool education?
- If states expand pre-K with temporary federal matching funds, what happens to state education budgets when that federal money is not available?
NIEER projects that in 2030 all but 1 state would spend less on education from pre-K through grade 12 under federal proposals that incentivize states to raise pre-K quality standards, offer a full school day, and serve all children under 200 percent of the federal poverty level.