From Kindergarten to Standardized Tests

Analyzing the Relationship Between Pre-K Availability and Test Scores in New York City Public Schools

Reviewed by Jim Yoon
January 10, 2015

Kelly Quinn examines the potential effects of New York City’s pre-kindergarten program on the test scores of elementary school students. She a significant relationship between pre-kindergarten availability and test scores – particularly ELA scores – but only up to a third-grade level, a finding that is consistent with previous studies. However, despite this fadeout effect, Quinn concludes that pre-kindergarten is a “positive force on test scores,” even though additional research is needed.

Perhaps more importantly, Quinn finds that income is a universal determinant of test performance. Her statistical analysis divides the sample according to the percentage of students receiving free or reduced-cost school lunches, and finds that students at wealthier schools perform better irrespective of the tested discipline. Even if the two types of schools have similar budgets, Quinn notes that, “significant and positive results are found only for the latter despite budget similarities.”

This implies that poverty has the potential to attenuate the benefits of early childhood education. Thus, Quinn argues that addressing problems of poverty and income disparity should be a priority in elevating the level of education for students in New York public schools.

View the full paper here!

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