- Center-based educational programs that improve kindergarten readiness, facilitating cognitive and social-emotional development
- Generally intended for four year old children, though some programs serve three year olds
- Higher quality programs (as demonstrated by benchmarking systems) have stronger and more sustained effects
- Both part- and full-day programs have shown positive effects
Strength of evidence
Evidence level: Proven (highest tier)
Proven (highest tier)
Ranked as having the highest level of evidence by the U.S. Department of Education What Works Clearinghouse
National median price of $8,320 a year per student
- Preschool - San Antonio
Outcomes and impact
- Widely recognized as increasing academic achievement, cognitive functioning, and social-emotional skills
- Effects are strongest immediately following preschool but can persist through K-12 schooling, increasing high school graduation, reducing delinquent behavior, and improving mental health
- Improvements in academic achievement are largest for students from low-income backgrounds
- Estimated $2-4 economic return for every $1 invested in preschool
Keys to successful implementation
- Use a proven curriculum design with developmentally-appropriate lesson plans. Activities should focus on developing skills that children will use in kindergarten, such as reading and math.
- Design professional development plans that ensure staff meets targeted improvement goals and maintain consistency with the curriculum. Teachers should receive coaching at least twice every month.
- Maintain consistent interaction with parents, both in terms of student progress reporting and inclusion in preschool activities.
- Programs with longer durations tend to produce stronger outcomes.
- Include follow up programs that aid the child’s transition to kindergarten, primary school, and even high school.