Study Shows that Pennsylvania Children Who Attend Pre-K Counts Programs Outperform Kids Who Don’t Have Access

Pre-k helps improve language and math skills at a rate equivalent to approximately 4-5 more months of learning, compared to peers

HARRISBURG, PA (March 16, 2021) – A report issued today by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC Chapel Hill) shows Pennsylvania’s investment in publicly funded pre-k is making an impact on the children who participate in high-quality pre-k programs. The report, which evaluated the impact of Pennsylvania’s publicly funded Pre-K Counts program by comparing kindergarten students who had attended Pre-K Counts programs to their peers who did not attend Pre-K Counts programs, is the first independent statewide evaluation of Pennsylvania student outcomes. Pennsylvania is one of 32 states funding pre-k for 3- and 4-year-olds and serves about 25,000 children with Pre-K Counts across the Commonwealth each year.

The principal partners of the Pre-K for PA campaign issued the following statement on the report:

“Pre-k in PA is working! The bottom line of this report is that children fortunate enough to access pre-k through Pennsylvania’s Pre-K Counts program are succeeding in kindergarten. In language and math skills, the study showed that these kids outperformed their kindergarten peers who did not enjoy access to this once-in-a-lifetime early learning experience – an advantage that equated to four to five months of learning gains, which is a substantial difference in development at that age. These outcomes are significant, because language and math skills have been shown to be the school readiness skills that most strongly predict later academic achievement.

“The report confirms what we knew all along – the Commonwealth’s investment in pre-k pays dividends. The report also shows that strengthening the pre-k experience would further strengthen outcomes, providing an even stronger return on investment. Researchers noted that Pre-K Counts has higher standards than most other state-funded pre-k programs across the country – a point of pride for Pennsylvania. An even greater investment would help the Commonwealth ensure that more students have access to publicly funded pre-k and that the programs have the resources required to ensure students achieve even greater gains.

“Children entering kindergarten ready to succeed has been the touchstone of the Pre-K for PA campaign since its launch in 2014. Pre-K for PA will continue to advocate on behalf of Pennsylvania’s youngest learners alongside the Republican and Democrat lawmakers who have consistently supported the expansion since we began this important work together.”