Early Care and Education
Early care and education (ECE) programs are crucial to preparing our children for success in the K-12 system, and to help address the achievement gap from the start. Economists have found high-quality early childhood education offers one of the highest returns of any public investment – a 13% per annum return. National research shows that children who attend high-quality preschool programs:
- Perform better on standardized tests in reading and math;
- Are less likely to be placed in special education;
- Are less likely to be held back a grade;
- Are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college.
Too many young children enter kindergarten unprepared, but high quality early learning experiences can help. On average, children who participate in high-quality ECE programs gain about a third of a year of additional learning across language, reading, and math skills. Conversely, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development study found that children who received low-quality care in their first four and a half years exhibited academic and behavioral problems that persisted to age fifteen. High-needs children fall further behind their higher-income peers academically even before kindergarten. The readiness gap is especially apparent in their vocabulary development – at age three, low-income children have heard 30 million less words than their higher-income peers.