Thursday, January 25, 2007

Advocates for PreK Release Study Showing PreK Is Good

Gov. Beebe and Lt. Governor Halter are citing a study released today on the effects of the "Arkansas Better Choice" (ABC) pre-K program. The results of the study can be found here. Both men have called for an expansion of pre-K funding.

I was impressed with the measures that they took to ensure their control group and their test group differed only in their exposure to the program. I was not impressed by their citing of the Perry Preschool Project Study as an example of the long term benefits of Pre-K. Perhaps they did that because there is no other study that has concluded that- the Perry results have so far been unrepeatable. The Perry study did not take adequate measures to ensure their control and test groups were otherwise similar- quite the reverse. There were many other problems with the way they conducted the study and the way they calculated the results. For a brief list of the problems with the Perry School Study, go here and scroll down to about page 12.

On the slender thread of one poorly done study that only tested retarded children Beebe and Halter would take us down the road to institutionalizing three and four year old children state-wide at great taxpayer expense. This is good for neither children, nor taxpayers, but only lovers of and believers in, government.

(continued, click THURSDAY below and scroll down for rest of article, or if sent straight here just scroll down)


Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Ok, other studies, including the one this thread is about, have shown short term gains for children. But those studies also document a fade effect. That is, of course underpriviledged children in a pre-school that drills them in the alphabet have better "print recognition" than underpriviledged children without the training. But by grade four any benefits from the pre-K vanish. Given they have the program right before kindergarten, I am surpised these temporary gains are so low.

The authors of the report couched the gains in terms that would allow them to use the most impressive sounding numbers- the increase not in total scores, but the percentage increase in expected gain. That is, if a child was expected to start at a score of 50 (never mind the units) and go to a score of 60 at the end of the year, but ABC children ended the year with a 65, they described that as a "50% increase in expected gain".

Pre-K is a proven way to 1) spend lots of money, 2) tax stay-at-home moms for the benefit of working moms, 3) encourage three year old children to spend less time in familes and more time in a government institution, and 4) widen the responsiblities of a government school system that everybody admits can't handle the responsibilities they have now. It is unproven as a way to bring lasting educational or other benefits to children. I beg the members of the legislature to be rational, not PC, and reject this rash course.

8:15 PM, January 25, 2007  

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