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The Case For Universal Pre-K Just Got Stronger

Posted by Social Venture Partners Portland

When SVP Portland began to identify a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal, decades of research data greatly influenced our decision to focus on early childhood. The benefits of quality early learning experiences on a child’s brain development, school readiness, and lifelong wellbeing are numerous. In short, investing in kids age 3-5 brings high returns, not only to children and families, but to entire communities*.  The most recent research** only reinforces this. NPR’s Planet Money took a closer look.

“According to the National Institute For Early Childhood Research, nearly half of all 3-year-olds and a third of all 4-year-olds in the United States were not enrolled in preschool in 2019. That’s in large part because many parents can’t afford it. Imagine a future where we changed that. A future where every American child had access to two years of preschool during a critical period of their mental development. How would their lives change? How would society change? … it turns out, we kind of already know.”

Two decades of data from Boston’s randomized lottery for preschool admittance provided accidental but valuable data.

”The most eye-popping effects the researchers find are on high school graduation and college enrollment rates. The kids who got accepted into preschool ended up having a high-school graduation rate of 70% — six percentage points higher than the kids who were denied preschool, who saw a graduation rate of only 64%. And 54% of the preschoolers ended up going to college after they graduated — eight percentage points higher than their counterparts who didn’t go to preschool.“

Read about all the positive outcomes afforded by preschool in the full article here



*Benefits include:

    • Less crime, incarceration, and substance abuse
    • Better health outcomes and lower teen pregnancy
    • Higher graduation rates and workforce readiness
    • Increased wages and lifetime incomes

**The same research by economists Christopher R. Walters, Guthrie Gray-Lobe and Parag A. Pathak was published at the following:

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