Seattle’s pre-school program gets high marks from independent analysts; evidence of value of early childhood education

We’ve written before of the benefits of targeted early childhood education. In our 2017 foundation report update, for instance, we wrote, 

Focusing on kindergarten readiness is a cost-effective way to help ensure students begin their academic careers on a level playing field, thus increasing their potential for consistent individual growth, a successful K-12 experience, and completion of postsecondary programs. The state should continue to make targeted investments to expand early learning options for children most at risk of entering kindergarten unprepared.

And we called attention to Boston Consulting Group research on  how and why cities are rethinking early childhood education (ECE). BCG concluded,

While there is no silver-bullet solution to ECE, local stakeholders should consider new approaches to building strong early-childhood systems. This means taking care to develop the whole child, focusing on the birth-to-third-grade continuum, and ensuring that each sector involved in childhood development is collaborating for the success of every child.

Seattle began a pre-school program in 2014. The Seattle Times reports the early evidence shows the investment is paying off.

When voters in 2014 approved a $58 million property-tax levy to pay for city-subsidized preschool, elected officials largely sold the idea as a way to help erase the gaps in achievement among ethnic groups that show up even before children enter school.

And now, more than halfway through the program’s four-year trial period, a new study of its results to date suggests it is preparing more children for kindergarten, with the greatest gains among students of color and those from low-income households or families that don’t speak English

 The 104-page report prepared by researchers from the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University and the University of Washington, may interest education analysts. For the rest of us, the two-page overview is helpful and accessible. From the overview released by the city:

FINDING 1: The Seattle Preschool Program produced gains in vocabulary, literacy, and math.

FINDING 2: The Seattle Preschool Program outperformed comparison programs and saw improvements in classroom quality from year 1.

FINDING 3: While available to all Seattle four-year-olds, the majority of SPS participants are from low- and middle-income families.

Good news. Congratulations.