Universal Pre-K has become a big item on the Biden Administrations agenda, with a pretty substantial price tag that would have to be paid for by raising taxes. Some research has been mixed on Pre-K. But a natural research study has been ongoing in Boston that suggests mixed short-term, but significant long-term benefits of Pre-K.
The study is published at School Effectiveness & Inequality Initiative (MIT): The Long-Term Effects of Universal Preschool in Boston. Here is the abstract:
We use admissions lotteries to estimate the effects of large-scale public preschool in Boston on college-going, college preparation, standardized test scores, and behavioral outcomes. Preschool enrollment boosts college attendance, as well as SAT test-taking and high school graduation. Preschool also decreases several disciplinary measures including juvenile incarceration, but has no detectable impact on state achievement test scores. An analysis of subgroups shows that effects on college enrollment, SAT-taking, and disciplinary outcomes are larger for boys than for girls. Our findings illustrate possibilities for large-scale modern, public preschool and highlight the importance of measuring long-term and non-test score outcomes in evaluating the effectiveness of education programs
It seems obvious that we should expand Pre-K. The question that we all have to answer: Is the $20B per year plan for Pre-K a sufficient long-term benefit to justify the expense (taxes)?
Source: Gray-Lobe, G., Pathak, P. A., and C. R. Walters (2021): “The Long-Term Effects of Universal Preschool in Boston,” SEII Discussion Paper #2021.05.