Educators seek to bridge early school years

A relatively new reform movement known as PreK-3 is aiming to help children sustain educational gains made in pre-kindergarten as they enter their elementary school years, Sarah Garland writes at The Hechinger Report.

Although the movement is only about 5 years old, it is rooted in research going back to the 60s showing that while students who attended the Head Start program performed at a higher level than their peers in kindergarten, the spike leveled off in a few years.

The PreK-3 movement supports universal free preschool, full-day kindergarten and development of a seamless curriculum that will carry children from preschool through third grade. But such efforts–especially universal preschool–are expensive, and state and local governments are having trouble funding existing programs. And results have been mixed in some districts that have tried some or all of the PreK-3 agenda.

“There are a lot of reasons why it should work, and why it would work,” said Robert Pianta, dean of the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. “We just haven’t been able to pin the model down in a way to evaluate to say that it’s proven effective in improving achievement.”