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February 11, 2020

Cincinnati’s investment in early childhood education shows long-term gains

New research demonstrates Kindergarten readiness influences future academic achievement  

A landmark study demonstrates that students who are ready for kindergarten have greater academic success across important milestones between kindergarten and high school.  

Pre K Kids

The longitudinal study tracked 2,158 Cincinnati Public Schools students from kindergarten through the 12th grade over the last 15 years. It found that children who are ready for kindergarten perform significantly better on key academic indicators such as reading and math proficiency, ACT scores and successfully achieving high school graduation.  

The study was made possible through a long-term data partnership between Cincinnati Public Schools, United Way of Greater Cincinnati’s Success By 6® initiative and Innovations in Community Research and Program Evaluation at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. The study was funded by United Way of Greater Cincinnati.   

Nearly 20 years ago, United Way of Greater Cincinnati declared early childhood a priority and created Success By 6®, a region-wide initiative designed to improve kindergarten readiness.  

“We have known for some time what the research says about early brain development and the importance of quality early learning experiences,” said Leshia Lyman, Vice President of Success By 6® & Area Communities, for United Way of Greater Cincinnati. “Our community believed and invested in this work and this study is our first opportunity to demonstrate that those investments continue to be worth it for the long-term.”  

Key findings of the study include:  

  • Children who went to preschool had a greater chance of being on track for kindergarten, as measured by the statewide Kindergarten Readiness Assessment.  

  • 57.4% of students who attended preschool regularly (90% or more days) were ready for kindergarten compared to 35.1% of students who were chronically absent.  

Kindergarten readiness, in turn, improved achievement in subsequent years:  

  • Students who were kindergarten ready were 314% more likely to score “proficient” on the third-grade state math test and 370% more likely to score “proficient” on the state reading test.  

  • By the eighth grade, students who were kindergarten ready were 228% more likely to score “proficient” on the state math test and were 276% more likely to score “proficient” on the state reading test.  

That positive impact lasted through high school:  

  • Students who were kindergarten ready achieved significantly higher ACT scores (5 points higher on average for 11th graders) and had a 118% greater chance of graduating in four years.  

In 2016, Cincinnati voters approved expanding access to quality preschool with the creation of the Cincinnati Preschool Promise. “This study provides additional evidence that our future investment in quality early childhood is imperative for continued success of our children,” said Chara Fisher Jackson, Executive Director, Cincinnati Preschool Promise.  

The full study can be found here.

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