New Study of N.J.s Preschool Program Confirms Lasting Effects of Pre-K

Lauren Williams's picture
Friday, March 22, 2013

The latest study of New Jersey’s Abbott Preschool Program shows that children in the state’s most disadvantaged communities who participate in the pre-K program make significant gains in literacy, language, math and science through 4th and 5th grade. These findings build on previous results from kindergarten entry and at second grade follow-up.

The Abbott Preschool Program Longitudinal Effects Study (APPLES) was conducted by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University. Co-author of the report and NIEER Director W. Steven Barnett said of the latest report, “We have found solid long-term academic gains for children who participated in the Abbott Preschool Program, further evidence that New Jersey is a leader in providing high-quality pre-K.” But, Barnett cautioned, “preschool expansion in New Jersey has stalled, and we can’t afford to backslide on pre-K now.”

The study found persistent gains in all tested subjects on the state assessments, with larger test score gains for children who participated in two years of preschool. In addition, Abbott Preschool Program participation was linked to lower retention rates and fewer children needing special education. These findings portend higher graduation rates and lower schooling costs in the future. 

“Today’s findings continue to prove the long-term value of high-quality preschool,” said Cecilia Zalkind, the Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey. “It provides further proof of why it must be available to all 3- and 4-year-olds, especially those in low-income families.” 

The study estimated the effects of preschool education programs on academic skills in language arts and literacy, mathematics, and science based on standardized tests given to all New Jersey children in 4th and 5th grade. In addition to Barnett, the report was authored by Kwanghee Jung and Min-Jong Young of NIEER and Ellen C. Frede of Acelero, Inc. The study was supported by the New Jersey Department of Education as part of its Early Learning Improvement Consortium.

A full copy of the report can be found at http://nieer.org/sites/nieer/files/APPLES%205th%20Grade.pdf

The National Institute for Early Education Research (www.nieer.org), a unit of the Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, supports early childhood education policy by providing objective, nonpartisan information based on research.