Children Left Out of NM Preschool Enter Kindergarten Less Ready to Learn

Monday, November 8, 2010

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ, Nov. 8 – Children who attend New Mexico PreK score higher in early math, language, and literacy than children who do not attend and are better prepared to enter kindergarten, according to a new study of New Mexico's prekindergarten program released today.

The National Institute for Early Education Research, a unit of Rutgers University, studied the New Mexico PreK initiative since its inception and finds that even as the program has expanded, it continues to be effective.

"During the time of this study, New Mexico began to assume a leadership role in the western U.S. by making steady progress toward a widely available prekindergarten initiative in a region of the country where enrollment in such programs has been low," said Jason Hustedt, NIEER senior research fellow and report author. "However, many new opportunities to expand the statewide reach of New Mexico PreK remain, since this initiative still serves fewer than 1 in 5 of the state’s 4-year-olds," he said.

The latest report in NIEER's multi-year study of the program, "The New Mexico PreK Evaluation: Impacts From the Fourth Year (2008-2009) of New Mexico's State-Funded PreK Program," found that:

• Children who attended New Mexico PreK during the 2008-2009 school year scored significantly higher on assessments of vocabulary, early math and literacy skills in comparison to children who did not attend. These skills include addition and subtraction, telling time, knowledge of letters, and familiarity with words and book concepts. The vocabulary test is predictive of reading success and general cognitive abilities.

• The results from the 2008-2009 school year are consistent with previous findings that New Mexico PreK produces positive impacts for young children that are evident at kindergarten entry.

Children's skills in key content areas were examined in a total sample of 1,359 children from Public Education Department and Children, Youth and Families Department PreK sites statewide.

A large body of research shows that high-quality preschool programs can lead to increases in school success, higher test scores, fewer school dropouts, higher graduation rates, less special education, and even lower crime rates.

A copy of the report is available on the NIEER website at http://nieer.org/pdf/NewMexicoRDD1110.pdf.

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The National Institute for Early Education Research (www.nieer.org), a unit of the Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, supports early childhood education policy by providing objective, nonpartisan information based on research. NIEER is supported through grants from The Pew Charitable Trusts and others.