State funding spats aside, researchers are pretty clear on the importance of early childhood education. The National Institute for Early Education Research has created its own list of quality benchmarks that outline what a good pre-kindergarten program looks like. In Texas, though there’s been a recent push for so-called high-quality programs, that hasn’t always come with more funding. On the ground, this means vastly uneven opportunities when it comes to pre-kindergarten.
Part 1 of this study confirms the broad variations of pre-kindergarten offerings across the state’s largest school district, Houston Independent School District, as well as the impact high-quality programs can have for disadvantaged populations in particular, using data for 50 of the district’s 164 pre-kindergarten programs.
Building on the first report, Part 2 of the study found that there did seem to be a positive connection between test scores and quality benchmarks for some groups. Non-economically disadvantaged appear to benefit from being enrolled in programs which attained a higher number of quality benchmarks. The same was not true, however, for economically disadvantaged students, suggesting that higher quality programs may actually be exacerbating gaps between low-income and higher-income students. Given that this is contrary to previous studies in the district, more investigation into this outcome is needed.
Photo: Flickr user Herald Post.