Childhood Development Expert Discusses Benefits Of Early Education In Funding Dispute

    Childhood Development Expert

    This case involves a dispute between two educational entities — a charter school and a class of public school districts. The charter school initiated a pre-kindergarten program for four-year-old students. This program was funded with monies paid by the school districts where the students lived. Although this program had been uncontested for some years, eventually several school districts began to object payment for the education of four-year-old students who were not eligible to enroll in their earlier pre-kindergarten program. These school districts operate under an “age 5 by September 1st” rule, in which a student can only attend if they are 5 by September 1st of that academic year. An expert in early education and childhood development with experience in curriculum development was sought to discuss the benefits of earlier childhood education to both the student, and the school district.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. Please briefly describe your experience with early childhood education and curriculum development.
    • 2. Can you speak to how children benefit from earlier education?
    • 3. Can you speak to how the school districts might benefit from earlier education?

    Expert Witness Response E-065820

    As a scholar, researcher, and teacher educator in early childhood education, I have 16 years of experience working with preservice and inservice educators around issues of anti-bias education and curriculum development for young children.

    The benefits of quality early childhood education are unequivocal. The High Scope/Perry Preschool project out of Chicago randomly assigned 123 low-income children to either receive pre-k education or not between 1962-1967. Forty years later in 2005, the researchers published some incredible results that they had collected over those forty years. They found that of the children who had received a pre-k education, 67% had an IQ over 90 at age 5 (compared to 28% of those without pre-k); 49% received basic achievement or better at age 14 (compared to 15%); 65% graduated high school (compared to 45%); 27% owned a home at age 27 (compared to 5%); 60% earned over 20K at age 40 compared to 40%; and 36% had been arrested 5 or more times by age 40, whereas 55% of their non-pre-k counterparts had been arrested 5 or more times.

    School districts benefit from quality early childhood education programs by being able to welcome kindergarten and elementary school students who are better prepared for school. Several states have documented significant cognitive gains for children who attended pre-k, including Georgia and Oklahoma. Children who attended pre-k were shown to have better standardized test scores, better pre-reading and pre-writing scores, and better skills in letter-word identification, spelling, and applied problems. Children of all racial groups also experienced significantly more academic gains–that is to say, their academics improved as a result of participating in pre-k. Other benefits to school districts include saving costs due to reduced use of special education services, reduced grade retention, less delinquency, and less dependence on public assistance.

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