Early opportunities and fourth-grade success: State pre-k funding, quality, and access on student achievement

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Abstract

To ensure all children can be successful in school and beyond, states have increasingly supported and expanded pre-kindergarten (pre-k) programs aimed and improving student outcomes and reducing disparities. While research has shown generally positive short-term outcomes for specific programs, state design and support for pre-k programs varies widely across the US, making cross-state comparisons difficult. As a means to better inform state policy decisions, this study assesses the relation between structural aspects of pre-k programs on fourth-grade student achievement and gaps across all 50 states. In assessing the relation of ELA achievement with state funding, standards of quality, and scope of access, we find that (1) state funding is associated with both increases in student achievement and reduced gaps, (2) the effect of funding is stronger in states that provide targeted pre-k access to low-income/at-risk students, and (3) legislated quality standards only improve overall achievement in states that provide universal access to pre-k. These results help identify how state policy structure may best be used to leverage achievement benefits for pre-k programs and reduce disparities.

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How to Cite
Pendola, A., Muñoz, I., Zapata, M., & Schaub, M. (2022). Early opportunities and fourth-grade success: State pre-k funding, quality, and access on student achievement . Education Policy Analysis Archives, 30, (126). https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.30.7144
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Author Biographies

Andrew Pendola, Auburn University

Andrew Pendola is an assistant professor of Educational Leadership at Auburn University.

Ismael Muñoz, The Pennsylvania State University

Ismael G. Muñoz is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Education Policy Studies at The Pennsylvania State University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and a master’s degree in Development Economics from the University of Namur/Catholic University of Louvain. His research interests include education and health inequality, social policy, and comparative and international education.

Mayli Zapata, The Pennsylvania State University

Mayli Zapata is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Education Policy Studies at The Pennsylvania State University. She received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and a master’s in International Educational Development from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on intercultural education, early childhood education, and educational inequalities.

Maryellen Schaub, The Pennsylvania State University

Maryellen Schaub is an associate professor in Education Policy Studies, College of Education atthe Pennsylvania State University, and the professor-in-charge of theEducation Theory andPolicy program.As a sociologist of education, she investigates how socialinstitutions,particularly family and schooling,intertwine and overlap in society.Hercurrentresearch delves deeply into the social constructions of parenting and childhood, examining itfrom a number of angles and organizations.For example, she has published on topics as diverseas the increase of parent engagement in early childhood cognitive activities, the expansion ofearly childhood education, and the growth child rights worldwide.