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Will Public Pre-K Really Close Achievement Gaps? Gaps in Prekindergarten Quality Between Students and Across States

Abstract

"Publicly funded pre-K is often touted as a means to narrow achievement gaps, but this goal is less likely to be achieved if poor and/or minority children do not, at a minimum, attend equal quality pre-K as their non-poor, non-minority peers. In this paper, I find large "quality gaps" in public pre-K between poor, minority students and non-poor, non-minority students, ranging from 0.3 to 0.7 SD on a range of classroom observational measures. I also find that even after adjusting for several classroom characteristics, significant and sizable quality gaps remain. Finally, I find much between-state variation in gap magnitudes and that state-level quality gaps are related to state-level residential segregation. These findings are particularly troubling if a goal of public pre-K is to minimize inequality."

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