Recommendations for Livingston Promise Scholarship

* Based on Best Practice Research *Little Howellers 4.2015

Why focus on 3 year olds?

The duration of center-based care matters: the greatest academic benefit is found for those children who start at ages 2–3 rather than at younger or older ages (Loeb, et al., 2007).

How much time should children be required to spend in Pre-K (if at all)? 

Cognitive Effects: Among children with multiple years of preschool, earlier exposure general leads to higher cognitive gains. But, particularly for higher-income children, those gains generally stop with thirty hours of preschool per week.

  • Research drawn from a national sample found that children who attended preschool for fifteen to thirty hours per week posted stronger cognitive gains than children in programs of shorter duration. However, those attending more than thirty hours per week generally did not make additional cognitive gains compared with those attending fifteen to thirty hours per week. (Center for Public Education, 2007)
  • The Oklahoma Case: Research on Oklahoma‘s universally-available, half-day preschool program showed children gained seven to eight months in letter-word identification, six to seven months in spelling, and four months in applied problems (pre-math), above and beyond the gains of aging or maturation. This suggests that half-day preschool is a strong first step. (Early Learning Technical Workgroup, 2011)

Social-Emotional Effects: Earlier exposure, at higher intensity, can have negative social effects. At least one major study has evaluated pre-k hours of service not only on children’s cognitive gains but also on social-emotional effects. The study found the following:

  • More hours in center-based programs often led to slower social development: Children attending a program for less than fifteen hours per week exhibited the best behavior characteristics, followed by those attending fifteen to thirty hours per week. Those in a center-based program for more than thirty hours per week exhibited the most problem behaviors.
  • The slower social development for those in more than thirty hours per week was most pronounced among higher-income children.
  • Among children with multiple years of preschool, earlier exposure generally led to higher cognitive gains but slower social development. (Loeb, et al., 2007)

The Half-Day Option: Parent work-schedules and increased demands of K-12 education have prompted greater interest in full-day services, but based on the research half day is a strong option. For most state-funded pre-k programs, a half day translates into 2 to 3.5 hours of service per day, four or five days per week. (Center for Public Education, 2007)

 Final Recommendations

Even slight standardization will enable Livingston Promise to more efficiently match prospective scholarship recipients with quality programs. The following recommendations are based on that assumption:

 Recommendation 1: Based on existing research, consider requiring at least 12, but no more than 32 hours of preschool per week.

 Recommendation 2: At the beginning of the program, require parents to make two key decisions for fulfilling that requirement, with funding distributed to programs accordingly. (Great Start Kent County, 2013)

  • Decision 1: Part-Day Preschool or Full-Day Preschool
    • Part Day Preschool: Minimum 3 hours of teacher/child time per day; 4 days per week
    • Full Day Preschool: Must operate for same length as local first grade program; 2-4 days per week
  • Decision 2: School Year or Full Year
    • School Year (Sep-May)
    • Full Year (Sep-Aug)

Recommendation 3: To further refine the requirement, considering providing a short survey to families eligible for the scholarship, requesting information on what would be the best options for them. At the end of the pilot, survey participant families for additional feedback.

References
Center for Public Education. (2007). Pre-Kindergarten: What the Research Shows. Retrieved from http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Pre-kindergarten/Pre-Kindergarten/Pre-kindergarten-What-the-research-shows.html#sthash.JBNYcXId.dpuf.

Early Learning Technical Workgroup. (2011). Washington Preschool Program: Increasing Access and Outcomes. Retrieved from http://www.k12.wa.us/legisgov/2011documents/Preschool_Nov11.pdf.

Great Start Kent County. (2013). Early Childhood Scholarship Family Application. Retrieved from http://www.firststepskent.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Year-2013-2014-Childcare-Scholarship-Application-Updated-04-26-13.pdf.

Loeb, S., Bridges, M., Bassok, D., Fuller, B., Rumberger, R. (2007). How much is too much? The Influence of Preschool Centers on Children’s Social and Cognitive Development? Economics of Education Review, 52-66.