Texas Pre-K Research Guide

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A Review of the Research on Texas Public Pre‑Kindergarten Programs

  • More than 2,000 students served in year 4
  • Teacher-child interactions measured with  Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS)
  • Overall, teachers displayed high levels of emotional support and relatively high levels of classroom organization.
  • Instructional support was mid-range and improved the most of the three quality domains since the inception of the program.
  • Average scores across all three CLASS domains were above a cited “research threshold” for quality.
  • No significant differences were found for any CLASS domain across centers suggesting similar quality experiences for all Pre-K 4 SA children.
  • PK4SA students’ kindergarten readiness scores were compared to a national representative sample of children for six outcomes.
  • Students started the pre-k year below the normed sample on 5 of 6 outcomes.
  • PK4SA students surpassed the normed sample in three outcomes (cognitive, literacy, and mathematics) by the end of the year.
  • Students eliminated the initial gap in oral language, physical, and social-emotional by the end of the year.

Pre‑K in Texas: A Critical Component for Academic Success
Children At Risk and the Meadows Foundation, 2016

  • Main sample consisted of 19,323 students across 509 schools in Austin, Dallas, Ft. Worth, Houston, and San Antonio ISDs, enrolled in pre‑k from 2011-2015, pre‑k through 3rd grade.
  • On average, economically disadvantaged students who attended high‑quality public pre‑k in 2010 scored higher on the 2015 3rd Grade STAAR Reading assessment than economically disadvantaged students who did not attend public pre‑k or who attended lower quality public pre‑k.
  • Disadvantaged students who attend full-day pre‑k score higher on the 3rd grade STAAR Reading assessment than economically disadvantaged students who do not attend public pre‑k or who attend half-day pre‑k.
  • For economically disadvantaged students, the odds of reading at a college-ready pace are 40% higher if they attend full-day public pre‑k.
  • For districts that spent more per student on pre‑k than the 2014-15 state average, there was a stronger positive relationship between pre‑k enrollment and 3rd grade STAAR Reading scores.
  • For these students, a quality, full-day pre‑k education and a quality kindergarten through 3rd grade education (at a campus with a score of A or B from the CHILDREN AT RISK School Ranking) makes the biggest impact.
  • Sample consisted of seven ISDs representing 64% of Dallas County students and 6% of students statewide: Dallas, DeSoto, Duncanville, Irving, Richardson, Mesquite, McKinney.
  • Of the 14 traditional ISDs in Dallas County, 10 applied for and received the HB 4 grant (three chose not to apply and Duncanville did not accept).
  • Reasons districts applied for HB 4 funding:
    •   Enhanced support for teachers and aides
    •   Strengthened family engagement
    •   Expand half-day to full-day
  • Recommendations:
    •   Create long-term, sustainable funding for a quality, full-day pre‑k program.
    •   If full-day funding isn’t available, move existing funds into formula funding for dependability of funds.
    •   Release funds earlier so districts can make hiring and purchasing plans sooner.
  • Challenges to meeting grant goals:
    •   Sustainability of funds. Districts were hesitant to invest in long-term improvements such as program expansion or additional teachers due to uncertainty of continued funding.
    •   Insufficient funds. Several districts hoped to expand from half-day to full-day with the idea they would receive as much as $1,500 per student. When they received about half of that, they either reduced the expansion or declined the grant.
    •   Data reporting elements were unclear.
    •   Grant timing difficult. Funds weren’t released until August, after districts had hired teachers and planned classrooms.
  • To increase access and demand, the district
    •   opened two early childhood centers (attendance: 390).
    •   collaborated with 19 community childcare centers so that Dallas ISD teachers taught students in these settings (attendance: 1,002).
    •   offers Dallas ISD pre‑k to 3- and 4-year-olds (attendance: 8,899).
    (Demographics: 93.4% Economically Disadvantaged; 52.8% ELL)
  • To improve Pre‑K quality
    •   ECCP department introduced pre‑k specialists into the classroom to provide individual support for teachers.
    •   more focus was placed on assessing socioemotional learning.
    •   Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), an observation instrument, was administered by Southern Methodist University to measure the quality of teachers’ interactions with students.
    •   students from birth to three could receive services through the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program and AVANCE in order to expand the continuum of care.
  • CLASS Results, Fall 2015 and Spring 2016
    •   District was above quality threshold in emotional support and classroom organization.
    •   District was below quality threshold in instructional support. About 60% of teachers did not meet the quality threshold for instructional support.
  • Kindergarten Readiness:
    •   8,976 kindergarten students took the ISIP in Fall 2015
    •   Overall readiness rate of 60%
    •   68.5% readiness rate for eligible students who had attended DISD pre‑k
    •   39.2% readiness rate for eligible students who did not attend DISD pre‑k

Pre‑K 4 SA Evaluation Report, Year 3
Edvance Research, Inc., 2016

  • 1,700 students served in year 3.
  • Pre‑K 4 SA students’ kindergarten readiness scores were compared to a national representative sample of children for six outcomes.
  • When starting Pre‑K 4 SA, children began the fall significantly below the normed sample on all six outcomes.
  • By spring, the gap was closed and exceeded in 3 outcomes: cognitive, literacy, math.
  • By spring, the gap was closed in oral language and socioemotional outcomes.
  • Although a gap still remained for the physical outcome, it was reduced by 74% by spring.

Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD Pre-Kindergarten Study
HEB ISD, School Years 2014-15 and 2015-16

  • Economically Disadvantaged and/or English Language Learner students who attended pre-k have a higher average score as a group and a higher passing rate percentage on the Reading STAAR in grades 3 through 6 versus those eligible children who did not attend district pre-k.
  • The higher performance still exists even when the study population is held constant for enrollment within the district which controls for instruction in Kindergarten through 2nd grade and mobility.  
  • Only one pre-k attendee was retained in grade during the study timeframe, while nearly 100 students who did not attend district pre-k were retained.
  • Only 1% of pre-k attendees were later identified for Special Education compared with 5% of non pre-k students.

School Readiness: A 2016 Central Texas Education Profile
E3 Alliance Education Equals Economics, 2016

  • Students with pre-k experience were nearly three times more likely to be ready for kindergarten.
  • Districts with full-day pre-k had significantly higher rates of enrollment for eligible children (85%) compared with districts that offer only half-day programs (73%).
  • Students who had a full day of pre-k and a low student-teacher ratio showed greater kindergarten readiness than those who only had one of those components.
  • $30 Million return on investment over time from enrolling each cohort of central Texas children who are eligible but not enrolled.
  • Compared with low-income or English Language Learner (ELL) status, kindergarten readiness is the strongest predictor of passing 3rd grade STAAR.

Child & Family Research Partnership Pre-K Report
The Child & Family Research Partnership (CFRP) at The University of Texas at Austin Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, 2015

  • Analyzed recent student for special education services among economically disadvantaged first, second, and third graders who either did or did not attend Texas pre‐k in the 2013-14 school year.
  • Effects of Texas pre‐k led to a state savings of $127 million on special education programs and nearly $15 million because fewer kids were retained in grade in the 2013-14 school year.
  • These numbers and cost savings only pertain to students classified as economically disadvantaged, and savings may be found to be even higher if other pre-k eligibility criteria were included and examined.
  • Increased scores on 3rd grade math & reading assessments (TAAS) for students who attended pre-k.
  • Pre-k participants were 13% less likely to be placed in special education.
  • Pre-k participants were 24% less likely to be retained in grade by 3rd grade.
  • Students categorized as both English Language Learners (ELL) and Economically Disadvantaged experienced greatest gains.
  • Small but statistically significant differences in 3rd grade reading and math scores (TAKS) for students who attended pre-k.
  • Black children had significantly higher 3rd grade math scores than non-attenders.