#2015APPAM Student Summary: Can Preschool Programs Implemented on a Broad Scale Have Lasting Impacts?
Alexis McLauchlan, MPP Student
University of Texas, Austin
Dale Farran of Vanderbilt University, Russ Whitehurst of the Brookings Institute, and Hiro Yoshikawa from New York University gave a riveting talk on the impacts of implementing preschool programs on a broad scale.
The research on the effects of preschool is fairly consistent. Although preschool can have some immediate effects on child outcomes in the short run, the long run effects are much less apparent. A fadeout effect often occurs, in which the effects of preschool on child outcomes are no longer present after a child leaves 3rd grade.
Preschool may be important in the lives of some children, but as Mr. Whitehurst asks, is it necessary? And if so, how do we create preschool programs that can have lasting effects? The major issue in implementing preschool on a broad scale is that preschool programs are a concept, and not a specified program. Programs vary in quality thus they vary in impact. What we need is consistent high quality preschool education but the question is how do we get there? There needs to be greater research into what is being done in these preschool classrooms, what curriculum we should be enforcing for preschool kids, and what really does matter for children at an early age.
Dale Farran points out that there is so much political support for preschool today but no shared vision on what preschool entails. We need public investment in early childhood education but we also need to acknowledge that it may not be a one-size-fits-all solution, and that vision and quality matter!