Panel Paper: Do Magnet Schools Help to Prolong Pre-K Effects?

Saturday, November 10, 2018
Marriott Balcony B - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Karin Kitchens, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, William Gormley, Georgetown University and Sara Anderson, West Virginia University

Early childhood education researchers have not reached a consensus on the extent to which positive pre-K effects persist over time or on what factors help to facilitate persistence. In this paper, we examine the possibility that the presence of strong magnet schools helps to explain continued divergence in academic outcomes for students who did and did not attend pre-K. Our data come from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he have continued to track approximately 1,850 of 4,500 students who enrolled in the Tulsa Public Schools kindergarten program in the fall of 2006 and followed through 10th grade who are still students in the Tulsa Public School System. Approximately half of our sample were enrolled in pre-K. In addition, approximately 200 of these students were enrolled in a Head Start program prior to kindergarten. These students will not be included in the main analysis but will be used for robustness checks. Data from a parent survey (collected in fall 2006) and school administrative data are used in analyses.

Our data permit us to distinguish between lottery magnets and academic magnets that consider student achievement in the admissions process and to distinguish between magnet school applications and magnet school enrollments for both middle school and high school. The main dependent variables include application to a magnet high school and acceptance to a magnet high school. Both application and acceptance are defined for lottery and academic magnets at both the middle school and high school level. Our independent variables of interest were attendance in pre-K in 2005-06 and attendance in a magnet middle school. 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 pre-K attendance influences both the application and acceptance into magnet schools.

Descriptive results reveal that approximately 10 percent of students applied to a lottery magnet high school and 23 percent applied to an academic magnet high school. While pre-K by itself did not increase the chances of applying to a high school magnet, going to a middle school magnet and going to pre-K increases the chance of applying to a high school magnet (coef=0.08, p<0.05). As for accepted to high school magnet, being in a middle school magnet increases your chances of getting accepted to academic and both (lottery and academic). But so does pre-K attendance: being in pre-K increases your chances of getting accepted into a magnet high school (coef=0.172, p<0.10).

In sum, evidence suggests that pre-K may contribute to educational choices and experiences into middle school and high school, with potentially important implications for educational achievement.