Terri Sabol of Northwestern University and colleagues presented the first systematized evaluation of the value of early education programs commonly called pre-kindergarten (Pre-K) programs and the actual improvement in performance in schools in the Aug. 23, 2013, issue of the journal Science.
The researchers contacted 1,013 early education programs and received participation from 673 public Pre-K programs in seven states in the United States. The researchers compared the actual academic performance of 2,419 children based on a series of standard tests that are commonly used to evaluate academic ability at each grade level. The results were compared to Quality Rating and Improvement Systems that are presently used to evaluate Pre-K programs and rate the effectiveness of these programs in preparing children academically.
The researchers found little correlation between Quality Rating and Improvement Systems scoring and actual academic performance even though the Quality Rating and Improvement Systems scoring is the basis for federal and state funding for Pre-K programs.
The researchers note that Quality Rating and Improvement Systems fail to make use of the data resources that are readily available to access themselves and make the needed changes to create programs that actually accomplish the goal of preparing children under four years of age to accomplish higher levels of academic achievement in grammar school and beyond.