New Mexico PreK Gets High Marks for Preparing Kids for Kindergarten

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – A new study of New Mexico's prekindergarten program released today shows that children who attended the New Mexico PreK Initiative scored higher in early math, language, and literacy than children who did not attend the program.

"We have studied New Mexico PreK since it started and find that even as the program has expanded, it continues to be effective," said National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) assistant research professor Jason T. Hustedt, who led the study.

The third report in NIEER's multi-year study of the program, "Continued Impacts of New Mexico PreK on Children's Readiness for Kindergarten: Results from the Third Year of Implementation," found that:

  • Children who attended New Mexico PreK during the 2007-2008 school year scored higher on assessments of 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. Gains in early math and literacy at kindergarten entry can be attributed to participating in New Mexico PreK programs the previous year.
  • Separate sets of analyses conducted for PreK programs offered by the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) and the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) show that PED and CYFD PreK programs produce similar results.
  • When the researchers combined child assessment data from the first three years of the New Mexico PreK program, they found further evidence that New Mexico PreK produces positive impacts on children's early math, language, and literacy skills.

Hustedt said studying the program over three years has enabled the research team to gain a fuller picture of how the program and its young pupils are performing. "What we are seeing is gains in children's skills that are comparable in magnitude to those that have been reported for other well-regarded state preschool programs such as the widely researched program in Oklahoma," he said.

New Mexico expects to serve about 5,000 4-year-olds in New Mexico PreK during the upcoming school year. 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/docs/?DocID=276.

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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. The Pew Charitable Trusts (www.pewtrusts.org) is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life.