Evaluating the Impact of Pre-Kindergarten for 3-Year-Olds

Early childhood is a crucial period for healthy development. Children who experience a stimulating, lower-stress, and loving environment in their first five years typically have better social, cognitive, health, and economic outcomes throughout their lifespan. A key early indicator of future success is whether a child shows up to Kindergarten ready to learn; meaning by age five, the child has the necessary cognitive, developmental, and social-emotional skills that will allow the child to learn and reach her full potential. Unfortunately, children born to parents with lower levels of education or resources typically are less well prepared for school, and the gaps in outcomes that exist at school entry are mirrored throughout their schooling career and into adulthood.

A key policy lever to better prepare children, particularly disadvantaged children, for school is pre-Kindergarten (pre-K). Although the results are mixed, the research generally suggests that children who experience high-quality, center-based pre-K are better prepared for school than their counterparts who do not have pre-K. Several states have adopted universal or widespread public pre-K, in response to this evidence.



Austin Independent School District (AISD) is one of the first large school districts in the nation to push further and offer public pre-K to 3-year-olds (PK3). The hope is that two years of high-quality pre-K will better prepare students for Kindergarten than only one.

CFRP, Dr. Cynthia Osborne, CFRP director and Associate Professor of Public Affairs at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, and Dr. Elizabeth Gershoff, Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Sciences, are evaluating the impact of the PK3 program for AISD.

The partnership will launch the first evaluation in the nation that will determine whether children who experience two years of public pre-K (at ages 3 and 4) are better prepared for Kindergarten than their counterparts who experience pre-K only at age 4.







What Do We Know About Pre-K? Brief 2015 October
Pre-K is Good for Kids and For Texas: Short-term Savings from Pre-K Estimated at Nearly $142 Million Annually Brief 2015 April
Early Lessons Learned from Building Local Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems in Texas (Journal of Applied Research on Children) Journal Volume 5 Issue 1 (2014)
Early Childhood Education is Linked to Greater Success in School News Post 2013 May
Full listing of CFRP Early Childhood publications Various Various