As someone who worked in early childhood education for over 30 years ago, I read with interest the Community Voices commentary “Why Head Start matters.”
I think the author hit all the right points. However, I would like to elaborate on the so-called “wash-out” effect after the child goes into elementary school.
While there does seem to be an initial diminishing effect in standard measures of academic performance for children who’ve had early childhood education, following those children and their families through their entire school years and beyond reveals that there is a significant improvement over their peers in regard to not only academic, but social indicators of success.
One example is the longitudinal study done on Perry Preschool project. Locally, the work of Art Rolnick and others have demonstrated that quality ECE provides a very high return on investment. So the debate about the long-term positive effect of quality preschool education should be over. It’s time to make a serious investment in what we know works.
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