American Educational Research Association (AERA)

Comprehensive Research Review Finds Lasting Effects of Quality Early Childhood Education Through High School

Newswise — WASHINGTON, D.C., November 16 — Children who participate in high-quality early childhood education (ECE) programs before entering kindergarten later experience fewer special education placements, decreased grade retention, and improved high school graduation rates compared with peers who do not participate,according to new research published today in Educational Researcher, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

The study—conducted by a team of researchers from five universities—found that participation in high-quality classroom-based ECE programs reduced future special education placement by 8.1 percentage points, decreased grade retention by 8.3 percentage points, and increased high school graduation rates by 11.4 percentage points.

The research team included Dana McCoy (Harvard Graduate School of Education), Hirokazu Yoshikawa (New York University), Kathleen M. Ziol-Guest (RAND Corporation), Greg J. Duncan (University of California, Irvine), Holly S. Schindler (University of Washington), Katherine Magnuson (University of Wisconsin–Madison), Rui Yang (New York University), Andrew Koepp (Harvard Graduate School of Education), and Jack Shonkoff (Harvard Graduate School of Education).

For their study, the researchers analyzed 22 studies published between 1960 and 2016 that examined the effects of classroom-based ECE on three distinct medium- and long-term education outcomes: special education placement, grade retention, and high school graduation. Those studies rigorously evaluated high-quality ECE programs that often focused on multiple areas of student development, such as health, cognitive, social-emotional, and academic functioning.

“It is exciting that our results show that the benefits of early childhood education are sustained through elementary school and beyond,” said coauthor Dana McCoy, an assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. “These results provide further evidence for the potential individual and societal benefits of expanding early childhood education programming in the United States.”

“Numerous studies have determined the importance of high-quality early education in supporting children’s cognitive ability in language, literacy, and math, along with social skill development and emotional growth,” said McCoy. “This analysis contributes to the existing evidence by showing how the benefits of early childhood education can persist for years.” 

“We were surprised by how consistent our findings were, given the diversity of the studies in our analysis,” said McCoy. “The studies we looked at examined a variety of programs serving children from different backgrounds that were implemented across five decades. The common thread is that these programs are high in quality.”

Over the past several years, financial investments in public ECE have risen rapidly. In 2016, state investments in early childhood education totaled $7.4 billion to support nearly 1.5 million three- and four-year-olds.

However, other research has found that more than half of low-income three- and four-year-old children remain out of center-based care. Negative education outcomes are much more frequent for children growing up in low-income families.

Approximately 6.4 million children in the United States are in special education classes and more than 250,000 are retained each year, with annual per-pupil expenditures for special education and retention amounting to more than $8,000 and $12,000, respectively. In addition, approximately 373,000 youth in the United States drop out of high school each year, with each dropout leading to an estimated $689,000 reduction in individual lifetime earnings and a $262,000 cost to the broader economy.

“Devoting resources to these types of high-quality early education programs that can prevent negative outcomes is not only important for supporting individual children’s well-being but also makes financial sense,” said McCoy.

Funding note: This research was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education and by the National Institutes of Health.

About AERA The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is the largest national interdisciplinary research association devoted to the scientific study of education and learning. Founded in 1916, AERA advances knowledge about education, encourages scholarly inquiry related to education, and promotes the use of research to improve education and serve the public good. Find AERA on Facebook and Twitter.

This release is available online.


Filters close

Showing results

110 of 6049
Released: 27-Jul-2021 12:05 PM EDT
Government Law Center Releases New Explainer on NY Redistricting
Albany Law School

The Government Law Center at Albany Law School has just released its latest explainer to help attorneys, politicians, and the public at large understand the complexities of New York’s redistricting process.

Released: 26-Jul-2021 12:40 PM EDT
GW Politics Poll Finds Varying Confidence in State and Local Elections
George Washington University

Democratic voters continue to have more faith in state and local elections than Republicans, according to new data from the George Washington University Politics Poll.

Newswise: Radiation Oncologists Urge Congress to Reverse Proposed CMS Cuts and Create More Equity in Access to Cancer Treatments
Released: 26-Jul-2021 11:30 AM EDT
Radiation Oncologists Urge Congress to Reverse Proposed CMS Cuts and Create More Equity in Access to Cancer Treatments
American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO)

A record number of radiation oncologists met with Congressional leaders and staff last week as part of the largest American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) Advocacy Day in the Society's history. The physicians urged Congressional leaders to intervene in response to consecutive Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposals that call for significant cuts to radiation oncology facilities.

Newswise:Video Embedded newswise-expert-panels-on-covid-19-pandemic-notable-excerpts-quotes-and-videos-available
Released: 26-Jul-2021 10:00 AM EDT
Newswise Expert Panels on COVID-19 Pandemic: Notable excerpts, quotes and videos available

Newswise is hosting a series of Expert Panels discussion on unique aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This tip sheet includes some notable quotes from the panelists.

22-Jul-2021 8:00 AM EDT
National Poll: Parents Split on Whether to Vaccinate Younger Kids Against COVID
Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan

Many parents are missing opportunities to discuss questions and concerns about the COVID vaccine for kids with a doctor.

Released: 20-Jul-2021 4:30 PM EDT
Small-Scale Worker Resistance Impacts Food Delivery Economy in China
Cornell University

Research from Cornell University has revealed a new form of bargaining power among Chinese platform-based food delivery workers, who conduct invisible mini-strikes by logging out of apps and airing grievances over.

Released: 15-Jul-2021 1:10 PM EDT
Even on Facebook, COVID-19 Polarized Members of U.S. Congress
Ohio State University

Facebook posts by members of the U.S. Congress reveal the depth of the partisan divide over the COVID-19 pandemic, new research shows.

Showing results

110 of 6049