New Research Shows Quality, Universal Preschool Could Close Achievement Gap

A few years of quality pre-kindergarten can help close the income-based achievement gap, according to a new study by two university researchers, Greg J. Duncan and Aaron J. Soujourner.

Using data from a now-defunct program that offered free preschool to students from different backgrounds, the researchers found that after providing low-income children with quality preschool early in life, the low-income students had the same IQs as wealthier peers by age 3. The study also shows that quality early education has long-lasting effects on these students: by ages 5 and 8, the low-income students still had IQs that were more similar to wealthier peers than is typical.

Duncan and Soujourner concluded that if quality, universal preschool was offered at no charge to low-income children, it “could make a large, persistent positive impact on low-income children’s cognitive skill and academic achievement and reduce, if not eliminate, the early skills gap between America’s children from low and higher-income families.”

Download the full paper here.