Nearly all states with public pre-kindergarten programs use a mixed delivery approach, placing some classrooms in public schools and others in community-based organizations (CBOs). It’s easy to see why this approach is popular. Parents will be given more choice, communities will be able to serve more children by partnering with existing pre-kindergarten providers, and public funds will be much more expensive than those offered by CBOs. helps stabilize childcare for infants who have difficulty
While this seems like a win-win, experts have long expressed concern about how the structural differences in these settings will disadvantage CBOs compared to public school programs. I’ve been For example, managers and teachers in many of his CBO environments receive significantly lower compensation, leading to higher turnover rates and undermining efforts to improve quality, and are more likely than their public school-based counterparts to do so. are less likely to join unions. In the limited research we conducted, her CBO children in some of these systems were more likely to come from marginalized groups than their public school suggested to be less successful.
As the country emerges from the pandemic, states and local governments are making critical decisions about how to spend remaining federal COVID-19 relief funds, and policymakers are pledging to strengthen early care and education systems. to determine the best course of action. Learning from pre-pandemic inequalities within the Pre-K system can guide these decisions and help build stronger and more equitable mixed-delivery pre-K programs.
A new working paper presents data from five large, mixed-delivery pre-K systems that took clear steps to improve equity in public school and CBO environments (Boston, New York City, Seattle, New Jersey, West). using. Virginia). New Jersey and West Virginia are among the longest-running state-funded pre-K programs, operating for 24 and 29 years, respectively. Boston’s program began in 2005, but NYC and Seattle are relatively new city-funded programs established in the past eight years. All five of these regions implement roughly the same program standards in both public schools and CBO programs. For example, all lead teachers in both settings were required to have at least a bachelor’s degree, and New Jersey, Seattle, and Boston paid teachers equally in both CBO and public schools (and New York City did so in the years following the data in our study). recovered).
Our total survey sample included approximately 4,000 children and 255 preschool programs. About 60% of these children and programs were enrolled in public schools and the rest were enrolled in his CBO. Within each system, we examined how child and teacher demographics, classroom learning experiences, and children’s academic progress differed by setting. They tended to favor public schools, consistent with long-standing concerns we found different.
Comparing public school and CBO preschool programs
Some of the main differences found in the five regions are who was where. CBO children were taught by poorly educated teachers in all areas except New Jersey. For example, a master’s degree teacher found that in four out of five regions he was more likely to work in a public school than in a CBO setting, with differences ranging from 8 (WV) to 51 ( Seattle) was in the percentage point range. We also noticed a noticeable difference in program delivery for each setting. Despite similar class sizes and teacher-student ratios, most comparisons rate public school classrooms as having higher quality teacher practices and classroom interactions. Found a pattern. To be clear, the evidence on the importance of these factors in predicting improved child outcomes is mixed, but they contribute to a fairly consistent picture of inequality between CBOs and public schools.
Children from marginalized backgrounds, including Black children, Latino children, and children from low-income families, were more likely to attend CBO than public schools. On average, these children all showed improvement in learning throughout the pre-K years, whereas CBO children showed improvement in learning. less overall than your public school classmates. This is an astonishing discovery. This is because children with more room to grow usually learn more than their peers. However, in our study, CBO children started later than their public school peers on average (Figure 1). Less than In most comparisons, it outnumbers children in public schools (Figure 2). The biggest difference equates to about 3 months of learning.
Certainly, further research on this topic is needed, including studies on additional localities and stronger designs. For example, identifying setting causality requires studies that randomly assign children to her CBO and public school-based programs. Although our study is descriptive, our findings shed new light on a persistent problem. Quality and child An important difference in learning persists across settings.
where from here
Resolving these longstanding inequalities will not be easy. Especially given the disproportionately devastating impact of the pandemic on CBO programs. So what can local governments do? At the very least, our findings show how and why local governments monitor equity by setting up mixed delivery systems. As far as we know, this is not a common lens used in the area, but it should be. Currently, only about 60% of state-funded pre-kindergarten programs report enrollment by race/ethnicity and family income. The first step in addressing these inequities is measuring them. This is a step that requires investment in building a stronger early learning data system.
Second, we found some evidence to suggest that keeping CBO and public school programs to the same standards may help. Specifically, the two regions (Seattle and New Jersey) that had the least differences in child development by teacher education, quality, and setting in our study also had the least differences in CBO and public school policies. , policies such as equality of wages and working conditions require resources that are scarce in many regions.
Federal COVID-19 Relief Funds can and should be used to implement fairer policies in the mixed delivery system. However, these are time-limited, and the potential for new federal resources remains uncertain since the drive to build a comprehensive 0-5 system stalled last year. As the COVID-19 relief fund expires, it could spur new momentum by looming funding shortfalls for ECE programs. If so, pre-pandemic data, such as our findings highlighting the inequality of the setting, and complementary experimental studies that have found a particularly large impact of evidence-based investment in CBO, suggest where resources are located. It shows the importance of considering program settings when deciding where to go.
It’s also important to highlight potentially counterproductive solutions, such as focusing programs in public schools instead or trying to change who goes where. Unless we significantly increase early care and education funding for her 0-5 year olds at the federal level, a mixed approach is needed to stabilize care for 0-3 year olds and give parents more choice.In addition, we need data how When why Families make decisions within the mixed birth system. Many families choose her CBO because it offers hours that are more suitable for their work schedules, because it suits their language and racial/ethnic background, or because younger siblings can serve in the same place. because you can receive I do not understand. We know that some families, especially those from historically marginalized groups, don’t apply at all to formal pre-K when available. Changes affecting program locations and participants require new data on family needs and voices. Otherwise, they risk limiting access and increasing inequalities. This is especially true for children, who are most in a position to benefit.
The bottom line is that neither before nor after the pandemic has yet fully solved this difficult problem. Policy makers, advocates and researchers are asking hard questions about these long-standing issues, continuously evaluating how program delivery is progressing across settings, and ensuring that all families have access to high-quality preschools. We need to work on new solutions to ensure access to the front.