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The Long-Term Effects of Universal Preschool in Boston

High-quality early childhood programs may be interventions that improve economic outcomes and reduce socioeconomic disparities. As a result, many state and local governments have been looking to expand programs.

In a paper recently published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, researchers from the University of Chicago, MIT, and the University of California, Berkeley, use admissions lotteries for Boston public preschool to understand the impact of early education on college-going, college preparation, standardized test scores, and behavioral outcomes from 1997-2003. They found preschool enrollment boosted college attendance, SAT test-taking, and high school graduation and decreased juvenile incarceration. 

They did not find a significant impact on state achievement test scores. And their research shows the effects on college enrollment, SAT-taking, and disciplinary outcomes are larger for boys than girls.

The study shows large-scale public preschool can improve student outcomes and highlights the importance of measuring impact on non-test score metrics.

-By Brooke LePage

Photo courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action.