Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
  • This strategy can help address educational disparities, which the U.S. Department of Treasury has designated as an eligible use of SLFRF funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program basics

  • 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

Target population

Preschool-aged children

Program cost

National median price of $8,320 a year per student

Implementation locations

Dates active

Not available

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.

Preschool - San Antonio

Preschool - San Antonio

Pre-K 4 SA: Providing high quality, affordable preschool to San Antonio families

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