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Early Childhood Education for Low-Income Students: A Review of the Evidence and Benefit-Cost Analysis

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Noa Kay, Annie Pennucci - January 2014

WSIPP analyzed how various approaches to early childhood education (ECE) for low-income children impact student outcomes and whether benefits exceed costs. We examined three types of programs: state and district pre-kindergarten, the federal Head Start program, and “model” programs.

To investigate, we conducted a systematic review of research by collecting all studies we could find on the topic. We screened for scientific rigor and only analyzed studies with strong research methods. We identified 49 credible evaluations of whether the three types of ECE for low-income children have a cause-and-effect relationship with student outcomes. The studies in our review measured academic as well as social and emotional development outcomes; a few studies also measured longer term outcomes including crime and teen births.

To view the final report for WSIPP's 2013 legislative ECEAP assignment, click here.

Report ID: 14-01-2201

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