Thursday, January 9, 2014

Benefits of Preschool And Head Start Fade Away By Third Grade

From The Washington Post, "How lasting are the benefits of preschool?" by Michael Alison Chandler:
[T]here is growing debate about whether preschool pays off academically for kids.

Most controversial is the so-called "fade-out" effect that has surfaced in research, showing that students who attend preschool begin kindergarten more prepared than control groups of students who did not, but they lose their edge on reading or math tests within the first few years as other children catch up.

The large-scale National Head Start Impact studies, for example, showed no reliable difference in how students performed by the end of third grade on multiple measures of development, regardless of whether they attended the federally funded pre-kindergarten program.

"Everyone is concerned about this phenomenon," said Deborah A. Phillips, a psychology professor at Georgetown University, at a panel discussion about early education research hosted Tuesday by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.

Phillips was a co-author of a meta-analysis published in the fall that reviewed dozens of studies over 50 years. The study found consistent short-term returns for preschool participants. But they also found consistent fade-outs of the short-term gains.

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