The moderating effect of neighborhood poverty on preschool effectiveness: Evidence from the Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten Experiment

Author/s: 

Francis A. Pearman

Year of Publication: 
Forthcoming
Publication: 
American Educational Research Journal

This study drew data from a randomized trial of a statewide prekindergarten program in Tennessee and presents new evidence on the impacts of pre-k on 3rd-grade achievement using administrative data on children’s neighborhood environments. Results indicate that pre-k had no measurable impact on children’s 3rd-grade math achievement regardless of children’s neighborhood conditions. However, pre-k significantly improved 3rd-grade reading achievement for children living in high-poverty neighborhoods. The treatment effects on reading achievement were substantial: among children living in high-poverty neighborhoods, those who took up an experimental assignment to attend pre-k scored over half a standard deviation higher on average than the control group in 3rd-grade. In contrast, pre-k enrollment had, if anything, a negative effect on 3rd-grade reading achievement among children living in low-poverty neighborhoods. These differential effects were partially explained by alternative childcare options and contextual risk factors.

Primary Research Area:

APA Citation

Pearman, F.A. (Forthcoming). The moderating effect of neighborhood poverty on preschool effectiveness: Evidence from the Tennessee Voluntary Prekindergarten Experiment. American Educational Research Journal.