Pre-K Study TN

New study: pre-Kindergarten (“pre-K”) programs harm children in the long run

I worked with a guy who had grown up in the church, in a married Christian home, and dumped his Christianity in college. We were talking about education, and I showed him studies about what young children need in order to thrive. He insisted that his wife needed to work for true equality of the sexes, and that children did better in “school” anyway. That’s what he called the pre-K program.

Well, here’s the latest large-scale study on pre-K’s effects on children, reported by Independent Women’s Forum:

A new study of state-run pre-K… found that it has long-term negative effects on children’s achievement and behavior.

The study is the most rigorous look at state-run pre-K to date.  The authors followed through sixth grade over 2,900 children from low-income families who applied to Tennessee’s pre-K program, and compared the students who were randomly admitted to the program with students who were not (the “control children”).  It is one of the few randomized studies of pre-K, and it has a longer follow-up period than other studies.  Based on parent interviews of a portion of the control children, the authors found that most of them (63%) received home-based, familial care, instead of attending pre-K.

Measuring the effects of pre-K from kindergarten to third grade:

In 2016, the authors initially reported “significant positive immediate effects” of pre-K, based on achievement measures conducted at the end of the pre-K program.  By the end of kindergarten, however, most of those positive effects were no longer statistically significant, and by the end of third grade, certain measures had turned slightly negative.

What about the next phase – fourth grade to sixth grade?

The new study reports on the next phase of the study, which measured the effects of pre-K through sixth grade.  As to achievement outcomes, the authors found that the “control children continued to outperform” the pre-K children “in reading, mathematics, and science with statistically significant differences larger than those observed in third grade,” and that the control children were significantly less likely to require special education services.  As to behavioral outcomes, the authors found that the control children had higher attendance rates and fewer disciplinary infractions than pre-K children, with the differences again being statistically significant.

Were these negative outcomes due to the quality of the pre-K program being studied?

The authors considered, and rejected, the possibility that these negative effects might be attributable to the quality of Tennessee’s pre-K program, explaining that “[a]mong state-funded pre-K programs, the TN program is above average and arguably in the top tier on characteristics many believe mark high quality.”  They additionally note that their results are consistent with other studies of pre-K programs and Head Start, which tend to show initial positive effects that fade over time, and with studies indicating “long-term negative outcomes on behavior for children in group care.”

When it comes to children, the attitude of people on the secular left seems to be “children will do well and be happiest if I do what I want to do, and they just adjust to my selfishness”. Secular leftists aren’t out here bounding their decision-making with studies about what does and does not work for children. They’re going to do what makes them feel good, what makes them look good to their co-workers, or other selfish adults.

What people want to hear today is that your wife is working, and she is earning a lot of money. And you want to tell them that. You want to tell them how on board you are with “equality”, and how opposed you are to “sexism”. So you put your wife into an office, and put your kids into daycare and pre-K. But according to the studies, that doesn’t work for your kids. But what do you care? It works for you. Your co-workers like you. You feel smart. You sound smart to the people you want to impress. You’ll rise high in your profession. You can afford to buy a boat AND a vacation home.

One thought on “New study: pre-Kindergarten (“pre-K”) programs harm children in the long run”

  1. My wife and I are both Christian and working (she’s a nurse, I’m a programmer) to try to someday buy a house. I am simultaniously going to college for a Master’s in Christian Apologetics. About halfway done. One of my two daughters is in preschool. It seems such an uphill battle. This article makes me question how people do this. The anxiety is crushing and the burnout is hard to push through. Christ is who I lean on most now. No more videogames, no more playing guitar, no more side projects or hobbies. I must continue. I must trust that God will help us raise our daughter better in a couple years. I have got to fight. Churches are falling apart. I must do my best and once we have a house and I graduate, follow Christ! Fight for my family, my daughter! I won’t give up.


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