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Optimal Preschool Policies for Low- Income Children Greg J. Duncan School of Education University of California, Irvine.

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Presentation on theme: "Optimal Preschool Policies for Low- Income Children Greg J. Duncan School of Education University of California, Irvine."— Presentation transcript:

1 Optimal Preschool Policies for Low- Income Children Greg J. Duncan School of Education University of California, Irvine

2 What skills and behaviors should preschools be promoting? Concrete achievement skills, mostly How good are we at doing that? So-so, and impacts are smaller now than 40 years ago Outline

3 What policy levers are available? Funding + regulating quality and curriculum What’s the bottom line on them? Center-based care helps; quality regulation doesn’t seem to work; and we’re promoting the wrong curricula in Head Start Outline (con’t) Are there successful models out there? Yes, but only scaled up in one city

4 What skills and behaviors matter most for success in school?

5 Skills and Behaviors AchievementEngagement Problem Behaviors Description:Concrete math and reading skills Ability to control impulses and focus on tasks i) Ability to get along with others ii) Sound mental health Example test areas or question wording: Knowing letters and numbers; beginning word sounds, word problems Can’t sit still; can’t concentrate; score from a computer test of impulse control i) Cheats or tells lies, bullies, is disobedient at school ii) Is sad, moody Duncan and Magnuson, 2011

6 Skill and behavior gaps between high- and low-income kindergarteners and fifth graders (SAT scale) Source: Early Childhood Longitudinal Study – Kindergarten cohort.

7 Skill and behavior gaps between high- and low-income kindergarteners and fifth graders (SAT scale) Source: Early Childhood Longitudinal Study – Kindergarten cohort.

8 Which school-entry academic skills and behaviors best predict later school achievement? Regress later achievement on: School-entry math and reading School-entry engagement, etc. Controls for: Child IQ, temperament Maternal and family measures Duncan et al. (2007)

9 Predictive importance for later school achievement (standardized coefficients) School-entry: Grades 1 to 8 achievement: Reading.17* Math.34* Engagement/attention.10* Anti-social (- expected).01 ns Mental health (- expected).01 ns Duncan et al (2007)’s meta-analysis of six longitudinal data sets, five of which control for prior IQ

10 Marshmallows be damned! Concentrate first and foremost on early math and literacy skills Bottom line for ECE and school readiness:

11 How well do ECE programs promote cognitive skills? Evidence from strong evaluation studies published between End of treatment effect sizes (vs. longer-run studies)

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15 Counterfactual conditions now are much more enriching: Maternal schooling much higher Fewer siblings More center-based care Why are impacts of programs from the 60s, 70s and 80s larger than now?

16 What About Long-Run ECE Effects? Short-term impacts on test scores fade over time –Meta-analysis: Decline by.025 standard deviations each year, or entirely after 8-9 years Yet, consistent impacts on adult educational attainment, earnings and crime across diverse ECE programs –Example: Deming (2009) fixed-effect Head Start study using an index of adult outcomes shows effect size.23 sd

17 The Mechanism Puzzle We don’t know why there are long-run effects on human capital when short-run achievement impacts fade BUT evidence suggests that there is not one explanation for all evaluation study findings –It’s not only because of “character” or behavior Good News, though: Equifinality--a variety of ECE programs with differing approaches have positive impacts on adult human capital through differing pathways

18 Policy levers Funding streams for programs Curriculum requirements Process quality regulation (QRIS)

19 ECE Funding & Enrollment Two largest funding streams for ECE: Head Start ($8.5 billion) and State Prekindergarten ($5.1 billion) In year before Kindergarten about 75% of children experience ECE in a mix of full- and part- day programs 90% of top income quintile 65-69% of bottom three income quintiles Lower enrollment among Hispanics, Immigrants, and rural populations

20 Cost of Expanding ECE Access Focus on funding bottom three income quintiles ~ 1.2 million of these children are not in ECE (or private ECE) Per child cost of program (mix of part and full day programs): ~$7,500 New Cost: $9.36 billion (a little more than the current cost of Head Start)

21 What is minimal ECE short-run effect size needed to recoup $7,500? Increase of 1% percentile rank in Kindergarten achievement predicts.5% increase in adult earnings (Chetty et al., 2011) Our estimate of present value of lifetime earnings (PVLE) at age 5: –Lower estimate ~$382,392 –Higher estimate ~$681,544 Break Even if ECE program impacts are : –Lower PVLE estimate: 4 percentile points ( ES) –Higher PVLE estimate: 2 percentile points ( ES)

22 How to generate large cognitive impacts? Curriculum requirements? Process quality regulation (QRIS)?

23 Types of Curricula “Whole-child” Content-specific (e.g., math or literacy) “Locally-developed”

24 Whole-child curricula Head Start mandates “whole child” curricula Creative Curriculum is most popular HighScope (Perry Preschool) is 2 nd most popular No strong evidence on effectiveness

25 Process Regulation Policy Lever All but one state have Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) Star-type ratings for quality based on structural characteristics and classoom observations (ECERS, CLASS) Most run by state family services and not education departments No RCT evidence; value-added evidence suggests no substantial impacts for stars, ECRS or CLASS

26 New RCT Evidence on: Which curricula best promote school readiness? Do gains in QRIS-type process quality match gains in child outcomes?

27 The Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research (PCER) Initiative Study provided random-assignment evaluations of 14 early childhood education curricula 12 grantees; all used common measures of child outcomes, classroom processes, and implementation quality 2,911 children

28 Math Literacy Whole-child (Creative Curriculum and HighScope) Locally- developed I II III IV Curricula comparisons in PCER Note: Comparison IV only involves the Creative Curriculum

29 I. Literacy vs. HighScope and Creative Curriculum U North Florida n=250FLEarly Literacy and Learning ModelCreative Florida State n=200FLLiteracy ExpressHighScope Florida State n=200FLDLM Early Childhood ExpressHighScope Berkeley n=290NJReady Set LeapHighScope University of Virginia n=200VALanguage FocusedHighScope II. Literacy vs. Locally Developed UT Houston n=200TXDoors to Discovery Locally Developed UT Houston n=200TXLet’s Begin with the Letter People Locally Developed Vanderbilt n=210TNBright Beginnings Locally Developed III. Math vs. HighScope and Creative Curriculum Berkeley and SUNY Buffalo n=320 CA, NY Pre-K Math Creative or HighScope IV. Creative Curriculum vs. Locally Developed UNC Charlotte n=310 NC, GA Creative Curriculum Locally Developed Vanderbilt n=210TNCreative Curriculum Locally Developed

30 Do preschool curricula affect: Classroom quality? Child school readiness?

31 Do preschool curricula affect: Classroom quality? Child school readiness?

32 Experimental curricula comparisons predicting classroom observational measures at the end of preschool ECERS total score TBRS Math TBRS Literacy Arnett total score I. Literacy v. HighScope and Creative Curriculum II. Literacy v. Locally developed III. Math v. HighScope and Creative Curriculum IV. Creative Curriculum v. Locally developed Each cell estimate is from a separate regression

33 Experimental curricula comparisons predicting classroom observational measures at the end of preschool ECERS total score TBRS Math TBRS Literacy Arnett total score I. Literacy v. HighScope and Creative Curriculum (.15)(.16) II. Literacy v. Locally developed.51*.46.83*.38 (.23)(.32)(.37)(.25) III. Math v. HighScope and Creative Curriculum * (.32)(.52)(.31)(.52) IV. Creative Curriculum v. Locally developed.61*.51*.71**.99* (.23) (.17)(.36)

34 Do preschool curricula affect: Classroom quality? Child school readiness?

35 Experimental curricula comparisons predicting school readiness skills at the end of preschool Literacy composite Math composite Academic composite Social skills composite I. Literacy v. HighScope and Creative Curriculum II. Literacy v. Locally developed III. Math v. HighScope and Creative Curriculum IV. Creative Curriculum v. Locally developed

36 Experimental curricula comparisons predicting school readiness skills at the end of preschool Literacy composite Math composite Academic composite Social skills composite I. Literacy v. HighScope and Creative Curriculum.15** (.05) (.10) II. Literacy v. Locally developed (.09)(.07)(.08)(.19) III. Math v. HighScope and Creative Curriculum.05.35**.25*.14 (.10)(.11) (.17) IV. Creative Curriculum v. Locally developed (.08) (.23)

37 Can’t we do even better than this? What if you built the curriculum around proven approaches?

38 Boston pre-K as a model? Curriculum combined proven math & literacy and behavioral curricula Develop “non-cognitive” skills as a by-product of boosting academic skills Strong professional development, including coaching Big impacts, but $12K per child

39 Boston pre-K Weiland & Yoshikawa, 2013 Child Development 39

40 Positive “Spillover” Effects on All Three Dimensions of Executive Function Skills 40

41 What does Boston pre-K look like? 6-minute video from restoringopportunity.com https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URZkGPwcsn0

42 Focus most on building achievement skills Typical ECE programs generate fairly small impacts, although still may have Benefits > Costs QRIS quality systems aren’t promising Mandated “whole-child” curricula aren’t either Experiment with full-monty curricular approaches Summary

43 Greg J. Duncan School of Education University of California, Irvine


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