Thursday, March 22, 2012

Study: Preschools Reduce Early Academic-Achievement Gaps

This from Psychological Science:

A new study implies that we should probably be investing more heavily in early childhood education because a child's academic success may well depend on educational decisions made as early as the age of 4.

Preschools may reduce inequalities in early academic achievement by providing children from disadvantaged families with higher-quality learning environments than they would otherwise receive.
In this study, longitudinal data from a nationally representative sample of more than 600 twin pairs were used to estimate the contributions of genes, the shared environment, and the nonshared environment to cognition and achievement scores in children enrolled versus not enrolled in preschool. Attending preschool at age 4 was associated with reductions in shared environmental influences on reading and math skills at age 5, but was not associated with the magnitude of shared environmental influences on cognition at age 2. These prospective effects were mediated by reductions in achievement gaps associated with minority status, socioeconomic status, and ratings of parental stimulation of cognitive development. Lower socioeconomic status was associated with lower rates of preschool enrollment, which suggests that the very children who would benefit most from preschools are the least likely to be enrolled in them.

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