Pa.’s free pre-K program provides a meaningful math and language boost, says new study

new evaluation of Pennsylvania’s state-funded pre-K program finds it consistently gives kids a meaningful boost in some core skills — but has seemingly no effect on others.

Launched in 2007, the state-backed Pre-K Counts initiative provides free pre-Kindergarten instruction to Pennsylvania’s low-income families.

To evaluate the program, researchers with the University of North Carolina tracked the progress of nearly 600 kindergarteners from across the state during the 2018-19 school year. About two-thirds of those kids had spent at least a year in a Pre-K Counts program, while the rest had received no formal early childhood education.

A key finding is that the kids who had been in pre-K had a serious head start on vocabulary and math skills.

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