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Does Universal Preschool Hit the Target? Program Access and Preschool Impacts

Listed author(s):
  • Cascio, Elizabeth U.

    ()

    (Dartmouth College)

Despite substantial interest in preschool as a means of narrowing the achievement gap, little is known about how particular program attributes might influence the achievement gains of disadvantaged preschoolers. This paper uses survey data on a recent cohort to explore the mediating influence of one key program attribute – whether disadvantage itself is a criterion for preschool admission. Taking advantage of age-eligibility rules to construct an instrument for attendance, I find that universal state-funded prekindergarten (pre-K) programs generate substantial positive effects on the reading scores of low-income 4 year olds. State pre-K programs targeted toward disadvantaged children do not. Differences in other pre- K program requirements and population demographics cannot explain the larger positive impacts of universal programs. The alternatives to universal and targeted state pre-K programs also do not significantly differ. Together, these findings suggest that universal preschools offer a relatively high-quality learning experience for low-income children not reflected in typical quality metrics.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 10596.

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Length: 67 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2017
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10596
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  1. Bassok, Daphna & Fitzpatrick, Maria & Loeb, Susanna, 2014. "Does state preschool crowd-out private provision? The impact of universal preschool on the childcare sector in Oklahoma and Georgia," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 18-33.
  2. David Deming, 2009. "Early Childhood Intervention and Life-Cycle Skill Development: Evidence from Head Start," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(3), pages 111-134, July.
  3. Elizabeth U. Cascio & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, 2016. "First in the Class? Age and the Education Production Function," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 11(3), pages 225-250, Summer.
  4. Jonah B. Gelbach, 2002. "Public Schooling for Young Children and Maternal Labor Supply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 307-322, March.
  5. Pedro Carneiro & Rita Ginja, 2014. "Long-Term Impacts of Compensatory Preschool on Health and Behavior: Evidence from Head Start," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 135-173, November.
  6. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Nathaniel Hilger & Emmanuel Saez & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach & Danny Yagan, 2011. "How Does Your Kindergarten Classroom Affect Your Earnings? Evidence from Project Star," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 1593-1660.
  7. Patrick Kline & Christopher R. Walters, 2016. "Evaluating Public Programs with Close Substitutes: The Case of HeadStart," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(4), pages 1795-1848.
  8. Bound, John & Brown, Charles & Mathiowetz, Nancy, 2001. "Measurement error in survey data," Handbook of Econometrics,in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 59, pages 3705-3843 Elsevier.
  9. Jens Ludwig & Douglas L. Miller, 2007. "Does Head Start Improve Children's Life Chances? Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 159-208.
  10. Will Dobbie & Roland G. Fryer Jr., 2013. "Getting beneath the Veil of Effective Schools: Evidence from New York City," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(4), pages 28-60, October.
  11. Heckman, James J. & Moon, Seong Hyeok & Pinto, Rodrigo & Savelyev, Peter A. & Yavitz, Adam, 2010. "The rate of return to the HighScope Perry Preschool Program," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1-2), pages 114-128, February.
  12. Sneha Elango & Jorge Luis García & James J. Heckman & Andrés Hojman, 2015. "Early Childhood Education," NBER Chapters,in: Economics of Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, volume 2, pages 235-297 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Helen F. Ladd & Clara G. Muschkin & Kenneth A. Dodge, 2014. "From Birth to School: Early Childhood Initiatives and Third‐Grade Outcomes in North Carolina," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 33(1), pages 162-187, January.
  14. Maria Donovan Fitzpatrick, 2010. "Preschoolers Enrolled and Mothers at Work? The Effects of Universal Prekindergarten," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(1), pages 51-85, January.
  15. James Heckman & Rodrigo Pinto & Peter Savelyev, 2013. "Understanding the Mechanisms through Which an Influential Early Childhood Program Boosted Adult Outcomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(6), pages 2052-2086, October.
  16. Anna Aizer & Flávio Cunha, 2012. "The Production of Human Capital: Endowments, Investments and Fertility," NBER Working Papers 18429, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Elizabeth Cascio, 2015. "The promises and pitfalls of universal early education," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 116-116, January.
  18. repec:iza:izawol:journl:y:2015:p:116 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Marianne P. Bitler & Hilary W. Hoynes & Thurston Domina, 2014. "Experimental Evidence on Distributional Effects of Head Start," NBER Working Papers 20434, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Dickert-Conlin, Stacy & Elder, Todd, 2010. "Suburban legend: School cutoff dates and the timing of births," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 826-841, October.
  21. Fitzpatrick Maria D, 2008. "Starting School at Four: The Effect of Universal Pre-Kindergarten on Children's Academic Achievement," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-40, November.
  22. Douglas Almond & Janet Currie & Valentina Duque, 2017. "Childhood Circumstances and Adult Outcomes: Act II," NBER Working Papers 23017, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Magnuson, Katherine A. & Ruhm, Christopher & Waldfogel, Jane, 2007. "Does prekindergarten improve school preparation and performance?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 33-51, February.
  24. Vivian C. Wong & Thomas D. Cook & W. Steven Barnett & Kwanghee Jung, 2008. "An effectiveness-based evaluation of five state pre-kindergarten programs," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(1), pages 122-154.
  25. William T. Gormley, Jr. & Ted Gayer, 2005. "Promoting School Readiness in Oklahoma: An Evaluation of Tulsa's Pre-K Program," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(3).
  26. Greg J. Duncan & Katherine Magnuson, 2013. "Investing in Preschool Programs," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 27(2), pages 109-132, Spring.
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