Children who participate in high-quality early childhood education programs later experience higher graduation rates, decreased grade retention and fewer special education placements when compared with students who did not participate, according to new research published by the American Educational Research Association.
The study was conducted by researchers from Harvard Graduate School of Education; New York University; RAND Corporation; University of California, Irvine; University of Washington and University of Wisconsin–Madison. Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 22 studies looking at effects of early childhood education on graduation rates, grade retention and special ed placement. A meta-analysis is a statistical approach that pools the results from multiple studies to evaluate the overall effectiveness of a program or approach. To be included in the meta-analysis, studies had to have been conducted between 1960 and 2016, and meet certain quality and rigor standards.
“Numerous studies have determined the importance of high-quality early education in supporting children’s cognitive ability in language, literacy, and math, along with social skill development and emotional growth,” said Dana McCoy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. “This analysis contributes to the existing evidence by showing how the benefits of early childhood education can persist for years.”
McCoy said they were surprised by how consistent their findings were, given the diversity of the studies in the analysis. “The common thread is that these programs are high in quality,” she said.