The effects of universal pre-K on cognitive development

Dev Psychol. 2005 Nov;41(6):872-84. doi: 10.1037/0012-1649.41.6.872.


In this study of Oklahoma's universal pre-K program, the authors relied on a strict birthday eligibility criterion to compare "young" kindergarten children who just completed pre-K to "old" pre-K children just beginning pre-K. This regression-discontinuity design reduces the threat of selection bias. Their sample consisted of 1,567 pre-K children and 1,461 kindergarten children who had just completed pre-K. The authors estimated the impact of the pre-K treatment on Woodcock-Johnson Achievement test scores. The authors found test impacts of 3.00 points (0.79 of the standard deviation for the control group) for the Letter-Word Identification score, 1.86 points (0.64 of the standard deviation of the control group) for the Spelling score, and 1.94 points (0.38 of the standard deviation of the control group) for the Applied Problems score. Hispanic, Black, White, and Native American children all benefit from the program, as do children in diverse income brackets, as measured by school lunch eligibility status. The authors conclude that Oklahoma's universal pre-K program has succeeded in enhancing the school readiness of a diverse group of children.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aptitude Tests
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Early Intervention, Educational*
  • Educational Status*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Psychosocial Deprivation
  • Public Policy*
  • Socioeconomic Factors