Panel: Impacts of Large Federally-Funded Preschool Programs on Child Outcomes As Evaluated with RDD Designs: Evidence from Three Preschool Development Grants and Policy Implications from State Representatives

Saturday, November 10, 2018: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Marriott Balcony A - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Chairs:  Terri J. Sabol, Northwestern University
Discussants:  Jocelyn Bowne, Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care

Evidence of Impact on Learning: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from the Preschool Expansion Grant
Shaun Dougherty, Tamika La Salle, Hannah Dostal and Carissa Scogin, University of Connecticut

In 2014, the federal government awarded selected states with Preschool Expansion/Development Grants (PEG) with the goal of developing and/or expanding high-quality early childhood education for four-year-old children from low-income families within a mixed delivery system of care. PEG programs are expected to implement key components that are believed to be important drivers of quality, such as teacher compensation commensurate to the local public schools, formal curricula and assessment systems, professional development supports, family engagements, and comprehensive services for families, including referrals to health and other social services.  

In the last decade, a wave of research in early childhood education has used a quasi-experimental design called regression discontinuity design (RDD) to evaluate the effectiveness of pre-k programs (see, for example, evaluations of preschool programs in Boston (Weiland and Yoshikawa 2013), in Kalamazoo Michigan (Bartik 2013), in Tennessee (Lipsey et al., 2011), and in Tulsa (Gormley et al, 2005)).  Each of the three states in this panel employed separate RDDs to evaluate the effectiveness of the PEG program in their respective states.  In all three states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Virginia), results from the RDDs indicated significant positive effects of the PEG program on children’s early literacy and math skills.

This panel will briefly present three papers describing the evaluation and findings of their respective state PEG programs, followed by a lengthier discussion led by state representatives from two of these three states.  State personnel will discuss how the results of these evaluations have been used or will be used in the near future to inform state policy decisions.  In particular, discussion will focus on how research and policy/practitioner partners can collaborate around data to answer questions and formulate action plans for issues critical to the early childhood community.

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