In older programs, preschool participants tend to outperform non-participants on a wide range of behavioral, health, and educational outcomes into adulthood, even when there is evidence of convergence or fade out on test scores in the K-12 years. Evidence on the long-run effects of modern-day, large-scale preschool programs is sparse.
Dr. Christina Weiland will team up with co-PIs Rebecca Unterman (MDRC) and Anna Shaprio (University of Virginia); William Corwin (MDRC); Tiffany Wu, Thomas Staines, and Kyle Kwaiser (University of Michigan) to represent one of the efforts around the U.S. to build this more modern-day evidence base. In partnership with the Boston Public Schools Department of Early Childhood, the team has spent 14 years carefully documenting the Boston Prekindergarten (Pre-K) Program’s history, features, and effects. Importantly, Boston Pre-K is somewhat unique nationally in that it used evidence-based language, literacy, and math curricula; offered training and regular in-classroom coaching to teachers tied to the curricula; and treated its teachers with parity with their K-12 colleagues. The first students to experience the program are just reaching early adulthood, making this the perfect time for the first long-term follow-up study of the program. Findings will inform debates and policy decisions not just about whether to offer universal preschool but what kind of preschool. Further, study children were in grades 8-11 when the COVID-19 crisis began. The team will also explore how the crisis may have amplified or muted any lasting benefits of the program.