Early Childhood Investments | Public Pre-Kindergarten

Early Savings from Pre-K in Texas

Growing evidence from across the country suggests that high-quality public pre-Kindergarten (pre-K) programs produce both short- and long-term benefits for children, such as improved kindergarten readiness, reduced rates of grade retention, and less participation in special education programs. High-quality pre-K programs can also contribute to narrowing the achievement gap through building increased academic skills among disadvantaged groups. CFRP studied the evidence base to gain insight into how the expansion of high-quality pre-K could benefit Texas kids. Research shows that economically disadvantaged children who attended a Texas public pre-K program (Texas pre-K) are less likely to be retained or to participate in special education programs in first, second, or third grades. CFRP found that, thanks to Texas pre-K, in the 2013-2014 school year, Texas spent $127 million less on special education programs and nearly $15 million less because fewer kids were retained. Add these savings to the mounting evidence that children who attend high quality pre-K programs have better academic outcomes, are less likely to drop out of high school, and are less likely to use public services compared to children who do not attend pre-K, and Texas pre-K is a program that has a substantial return on investment for Texas kids and the state.

Evaluating Austin Independent School District’s Pre-K3 Program

Early childhood is a crucial period for healthy development. A key early indicator of future success is whether a child shows up to Kindergarten ready to learn; meaning by age five, the child has the necessary cognitive, developmental, and social-emotional skills that will allow the child to learn and reach her full potential. Unfortunately, children born to parents with lower levels of education or resources typically are less well-prepared for school, and the gaps in outcomes that exist at school entry are mirrored throughout their schooling career and into adulthood. A key policy lever to better prepare children for school is pre-Kindergarten (pre-K). Research shows that children who experience high-quality, pre-K are better prepared for school than their counterparts who do not have pre-K. Several states have adopted universal or widespread public pre-K, in response to this evidence. Austin Independent School District (AISD) is one of the first large school districts in the nation to push further and offer public pre-K to 3-year -olds. The hope is that two years of high quality pre-K will better prepare students for Kindergarten than only one. CFRP is evaluating this claim, and using students in their first year at the The University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs to help in these efforts. The project is the first evaluation in the nation that will determine whether children who experience two years of public pre-K (at ages 3 and 4) are better prepared for Kindergarten than their counterparts who experience pre-K only at age 4.


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Related Publications and Posts:

Title Type Date
Child Care Ratios in Texas and Children’s Safety Brief 2017 January
Study: 41 percent of Central Texas kids ready for kindergarten (The Statesman) Media 2016 September
Evaluating the Impact of Pre-Kindergarten for 3 Year Olds News Post 2016 August
What Do We Know About Pre-K? Brief 2015 October
Pre-K is Good for Kids and For Texas: Short-term Savings from Pre-K Estimated at Nearly $142 Million Annually Brief 2015 April
Early Lessons Learned from Building Local Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems in Texas (Journal of Applied Research on Children) Journal Volume 5 Issue 1 (2014)
Early Childhood Education is Linked to Greater Success in School News Post 2013 May
Full listing of CFRP Early Childhood publications Various Various