1. Were Chicago’s pre-k policy changes related to academic outcomes in early elementary school?
2. How were pre-k policy changes related to second grade outcomes?
This study, with NORC at the University of Chicago and Start Early, investigates if and how the geographic placement of full-day pre-k classrooms within a school district matters for later student outcomes. It found that Chicago policies intended to increase access and enrollment to full-day, school-based pre-k were also related to higher kindergarten entry skills and ultimately better academic outcomes in second grade, particularly for high-priority students. Average second-grade math and reading test scores and academic grades increased the most for some high-priority student groups, including Black students, students in the lowest-income group, and students living in mostly Black neighborhoods.
- For most student groups, the pre-k policy changes were related to more favorable early elementary math test scores and academic grades.
- For Black students and students in the lowest-income group, the pre-k policy changes were also associated with higher reading test scores in second grade.
- Across all student groups, improved second grade outcomes were related to pre-k policy changes through greater access to full-day pre-k, and subsequently improved kindergarten entry skills.
- This pathway, from full-day pre-k to better second grade outcomes, proved especially strong among Black students, students in the lowest-income group, and students living in mostly-Black neighborhoods.