The net is flooded with analysis of early childhood development programs and assessments of Obama’s pre-K proposal. I’ll sift through and highlight some of them them here. But it may be hard to improve on what David Brooks says in today’s NYT. I think this is the kind of balanced assessment suggested by the literature:
These state programs, in places like Oklahoma, Georgia and New Jersey, have not been studied as rigorously as Head Start. There are huge quality differences between different facilities in the same state or the same town. The best experts avoid sweeping conclusions. Nonetheless, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that these state programs can make at least an incremental difference in preparing children for school and in getting parents to be more engaged in their kids’ education.
These programs do not perform miracles, but incremental improvements add up year by year and produce significantly better lives.
He goes on to summarize Obama’s approach this way:
Obama is trying to significantly increase the number of kids with access to early education. The White House will come up with a dedicated revenue stream that will fund early education projects without adding to the deficit. These federal dollars will be used to match state spending, giving states, many of whom want to move aggressively, further incentive to expand and create programs.
But Washington’s main role will be to measure outcomes, not determine the way states design their operations. Washington will insist that states establish good assessment tools. They will insist that pre-K efforts align with the K-12 system. But beyond that, states will have a lot of latitude.
It’s worth reading the whole thing here.