Jason T. Hustedt, University of Delaware; Kwanghee Jung, National Institute for Early Education Research, Rutgers University; Allison H. Friedman-Krauss, National Institute for Early Education Research, Rutgers University; W. Steven Barnett, National Institute for Early Education Research, Rutgers University; Gerilyn Slickera, University of Delaware
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.