Contextual Risk Post Pre-K: Evidence of Fadeout or Inoculation?
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
We employ data from the Tulsa Pre-k Study, a long-term investigation of over 2,000 children who attended kindergarten in the Tulsa Public Schools (TPS) in 2006 and followed through 8th grade. Approximately half were enrolled in pre-k in the year prior. Data from a parent survey (collected in fall 2006) and school administrative data are employed in analyses. The main dependent variables include test scores, special education status, school attendance, and repeating a grade, as captured by school administrative data in 8th grade. Our independent variables of interest were attendance in pre-k in 2005-06, an unexpected change in school between K through 3rd grade (or elementary school), and chronic poverty (free lunch status from K through 8thgrade), all as indexed from school administrative data.
Due to missing data common in any long-term study, we employed multiple imputation to create 20 imputed datasets. As a first step, we used multiple regression with covariates (and imputed data) to examine the extent to which school instability and chronic poverty modified the pre-k–academic outcome link. We use propensity score weighting to balance the pre-k and no pre-k groups.
Descriptive results reveal that approximately one third of participants changed elementary schools at least one time and a little over half of all participants lived in chronic poverty. However, no evidence from multiple regression results suggests a role for school mobility in fadeout. That said, school mobility is consistently associated with lower test scores. However, there may be differential pre-k effects depending on whether or not the child lived in chronic poverty. Those children who lived in chronic poverty but attended pre-k (vs. poverty with no pre-k) were significantly less likely to repeat a grade by 8th grade (OR = .47, p <.001), but this association was not significant for those who had not lived in chronic poverty and attended pre-k (vs. no pre-k or poverty; OR = 72, ns). Results provide modest support for the inoculation hypothesis. Additional analyses using path analytic techniques will continue to investigate fadeout.