We are staring at the possibility that Governor Lingle may veto come Tuesday the Early Childhood Education bill, SB2878, which establishes a new system called "Keiki First Steps". A new study from Georgetown University has been published that may influence financial and policy decisions for early childhood and pre-kindergarten programs in other states.
Researchers found "substantial gains in cognitive skills for four-year-olds enrolled in school-based pre-kindergarten programs and Head Start programs in Tulsa, Oklahoma."
Specifically, children in the pre-kindergarten program experienced gains of nine months in pre-reading skills, seven months in pre-writing skills, and five months in pre-math skills relative to their peers. The children in the Head Start program experienced gains of six months in pre-reading, three months in pre-writing, and five months in pre-math.
Oklahoma has a state funded pre-kindergarten program based in the public school system.
The researchers summarized that a child's participation in a pre-K program was a more powerful predictor of certain test scores - more powerful than gender, free lunch eligibility, a mother's education, or whether the biological father lives at home. This leads them to conclude that: "The cumulative effects of family and environmental risk factors are daunting, but their negative impact can be muted substantially by participation in a high quality early childhood education program."