Early Childhood Education
The first five years of children’s lives have a profound impact on their education. The brain grows to about 80 percent of adult size by three years of age and 90 percent by age five. Thus, the stimulation, interaction, and educational opportunities provided to young children shape their long-term educational outcomes. By the time children enter kindergarten, children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds lag significantly behind children from higher socioeconomic background in academic skills. High-quality early childhood education programs have been proven to help narrow this gap and put students on the path to college and career readiness.
New York City has several public early childhood education programs including EarlyLearn NYC (Head Start and childcare), administered through the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), and Universal Pre-Kindergarten, administered through the Department of Education (DOE). However, these programs serve only a small fraction of
eligible children. ACS released a needs assessment in 2008 that found that New York City was serving only 27 percent of eligible low-income children in ACS city-funded early childhood programs. The assessment also found that only 37 percent of all NYC children under the age of six were being served in early childhood settings.
Rigorous long-term research shows that high-quality early childhood education programs help prepare children for school and lead to improved educational outcomes. Children from low-income families who participate in high-quality early childhood education are less likely to be held back in school or placed in special education classes and are more likely to graduate from high school. Over time, those who participate in high-quality early childhood
education programs are more likely to attend college, be employed, earn higher wages, and avoid involvement in the criminal justice system. Here are some key findings from several of the seminal early childhood education studies:
High/Scope Perry Preschool Program:
- Children who participated in the program significantly outperformed children in the control group on intellectual and language tests from their preschool years until age seven, on school achievement tests at ages nine, ten, and fourteen, and on literacy tests at ages nineteen and twenty-seven.
- Nearly half of the children who participated were performing at grade level by age fourteen, compared with only 15 percent of the children in the control group.
- Children not participating in the program were twice as likely to be placed in special education classes.
- Children who participated were 44 percent more likely to graduate from high school on time.
- Children who participated were 22 percent more likely to be employed at age forty.
- Children not participating in the program were five times more
Chicago’s Child-Parent Centers:
- Children who participated were 40 percent less likely to be retained a grade in school than those not participating in the program.
- Children who participated were 35 percent less likely to need special education services.
- Children who participated were 29 percent more likely to graduate from high school.
- Children who participated were 31 percent more likely to hold a semi-skilled or higher level job.
- Children who participated had a 41 percent lower rate of arrests for violent crime.
The Carolina Abecedarian Project:
- Children who participated in the program had higher test scores in IQ and achievement than non-participants.
- Children in the program were 48 percent less likely to be retained a grade in school.
- Children in the program were 2.5 times more likely to be enrolled in a four-year
- Children in the program were 74 percent more likely to have a skilled job by age twenty-one.
college or university at age twenty-one.
Research also shows that early childhood education programs help stimulate the economy and save money. In New York, every dollar invested in early childhood education generates $1.86 in additional spending in local neighborhoods. In the long run, high-quality early childhood education programs can save as much as $16 for every dollar invested, making these programs one of the best investments our city can make. These savings come from reduced spending on remedial and special education services, public assistance, and criminal justice.
High-quality early childhood education is a key strategy for narrowing the achievement gap, improving educational outcomes, and preparing children for college and careers.
HighScope/Perry Preschool Study
Chicago Child-Parent Centers
Reynolds, A. J., J. A. Temple, D. L. Robertson, and E. A. Mann. 2001. “Long-term Effects of an Early Childhood Intervention on Educational Achievement and Juvenile Arrest: A 15- Year Follow-up of Low-Income Children in Public Schools,” Journal of the American Medical Association 285, no. 18.
Reynolds, A. J., J. A. Temple, S. Ou, I. A. Arteaga, and B. A. B. White. 2011. “School- Based Early Childhood Education and Age-28 Well-Being: Effects by Timing, Dosage, and Subgroups,” Science 333, no. 6040.
The Carolina Abecedarian Project
Early Childhood Education Research
Examples of Best Policy and Practice
Winning Beginning New York Coalition
Campaign for Children NYC
Prepared by: Advocates for Children of New York, www.advocatesforchildren.org