Monday, November 27, 2006

Grading Pre-K

Tennessee Comptroller John Morgan, who recently proposed a state wide property tax for schools has issued a Request For Proposals to evaluate the effectiveness of the pre-K's we've already got. I'm going to prophecy that the report will say the state-funded pre-K's have an effectiveness (that lasts at least to the 5th grade) and we need more money 'for the children'.

The evaluation will include the short term effects of Pre-K as well as the long term effects (page 18). However, their definition of long term is 3rd through 5th grade. I'd have thought 'long term' would mean 12th grade. This study isn't going to be worth anything but 'proving' that pre-K works in order to enable more classes to be created, more jobs to be created, more money to be made. The end result isn't actually educating the children else the long term effect would be much further out than just the 5th grade. I don't know of anyone that doesn't agree that in the short term pre-K helps. The question really is does it help in the long run--as in do they actually get a good education through to the 12th grade? If we expend all this time and energy on young children only to lose it several years later have we gained anything? It all becomes just a jobs program without real loooong term impact.

We're also only going to look at "state funded" pre-K programs, not those privately run. If we're going to spend funds evaluating pre-K for our children shouldn't we be willing to look everything? What's the purpose in looking at only state run classes? Because we don't recognize that public schools are in a race with private options? Because we don't want the state-run programs to look bad compared to the private ones?

Heritage Foundation info has links and mentions of specific research vs. Pre-K Now which--well--doesn't. Gotta wonder why.

Must read: Reason Foundation's report of May 2006.

“We find strong evidence that widespread adoption of preschool and full-day kindergarten is unlikely to improve student achievement,” Olsen and Snell write. “For nearly 50 years, local, state, and federal governments and diverse private sources have spent billions of dollars funding early education programs. Many early interventions have had meaningful short-term effects on grade-level retention and special education placement. However, the effects of early interventions routinely disappear after children leave the programs.”
Oh, and moms and dads with children in state run pre-K programs and schools you may want to double check the paperwork next year and see if your child is going to be included in this study and if you're ok with the additional testing, monitoring and questions regarding race, economics and other family information. The contract begins in February 1, 2006 and the final comprehensive report is due January of 2010.

You're going to want to read Bill Hobbs take on this also. Thanks to Ben for forwarding the RFP link. It's good to have watchmen on the walls.

6 comments:

Tom said...

My son is in a private (a cooperative, with a parent board that sets policy) preschool and is taking part in a state run study about the effectiveness of these programs. So, Mr. Morgan's study may be exclusive, but there are studies out there doing essentially the same thing that do include private preschool kids.

Tom said...

"Reason Foundation’s mission is to advance a free society by developing,
applying, and promoting libertarian principles, including individual
liberty, free markets, and the rule of law. We use journalism and
public policy research to influence the frameworks and actions of policymakers,
journalists, and opinion leaders."

Hmmm.

Here's the research the state lists.

Freeder said...

In response to the Grading PreK blog:
I am a product of the public school system kindergarten program, so are my older brother and sisters, my younger sister is a product of headstart and public school kindergarten, our children have gone through headstart, prek, public school kindergarten and so forth. I am also a staff person and member of Stand for Children and an early childhood education major. By mentioning all of this, I can say that early education is a MUST. I, my siblings and our children have had much success in school and it is due to early education and family involvement. I cannot fathom why anyone, especially a parent, could write a blog (or even think to) such as the one written by Kay Brooks. Programs such as headstart, prek and kindergarten equip children with the proper tools to get ready for the formal education process. Without programs like these, children would have an even harder time in school. I encourage anyone to visit any kindergarten classroom and I bet that just by observing you could tell which children were in these programs and which ones just came straight to the kindergarten. Children that are pre-educated are more social, catch on to directions faster, and basically mainstream into the classroom with more ease. If you hire two people, you put one straight to work and you train the other one. Which one will do a better job? Naturally the one with the training will do a better job. Would you hire a person to a skilled position without any training? No. So when it comes to our children, why wouldn’t we give them training for the job that they will be doing for the next twelve or so years. If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.

Eric Holcombe said...

Kay, they probably do not have data further out, but I can't see the public system wanting to compare any of their numbers beyond 4th or 5th grade, because almost all subjects drop in proficiency rates between 4th and 8th grade - for all classes of students.

I am interested in how the state would use Tom's school's data as well. A private cooperative is a far cry from the lowest common denominator approach in the public system.

"I cannot fathom why anyone, especially a parent, could write a blog (or even think to) such as the one written by Kay Brooks."

Because some of us believe in parents raising their children, not the state. We also see continually lowering the age of state schooling (and raising taxes to pay for it) as increasingly forcing parents into the two-income household model so they have no choice but to use the state "daycare".


"Children that are pre-educated are more social, catch on to directions faster, and basically mainstream into the classroom with more ease."

Sounds really beneficial to the sheep-herder. This is describing acclimation to the classroom environment, not academic achievement.

"So when it comes to our children, why wouldn’t we give them training for the job that they will be doing for the next twelve or so years."

To continue that logic, would you send in "untrained" three and four-year olds to the pre-K program?

Tom said...

I'd like to add that my wife and I don't send our son to preschool so that he will perform better on his sixth grade tests, but so that his life is enriching and full of diverse experiences while he's four. My wife works part time from home and could easily keep him, as she did until he was three. We want him to learn more about the world; if it helps prepare him for future years of schooling, that's icing on the cake.

George Rand said...

Lenin and Hitler both believed in getting the children early and indoctrinating them to become docile subjects of the totalitarian state. Freeder is a perfect example of why they were right.