How Does Texas Pre-K Stack Up? Research Says Not Well.

December 5, 2014 |

– New report offers roadmap for major improvements, starting with expansion to full-day pre-k –

Austin, TX (December 4, 2014)Raise Your Hand Texas recently released a report highlighting research-driven practices proven effective in public pre-kindergarten programs across the country, and comparing how Texas’ pre-k program stacks up. “Pre-Kindergarten for the Modern Age: A scalable, affordable, high-quality plan for Texas” was prepared by Dr. Robert Pianta, Dean of the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia and a leading expert on early childhood education.

The report shows that Texas currently has in place few of the elements of high-quality public pre-k programs and collects very little data on program quality. With regards to statewide policy and funding, Texas only partially meets three of the eight elements of effective pre-k programs. The report recommends a series of policy changes to improve the quality and impact of the state’s pre-k program, starting with the need to expand our statewide commitment from half-day to full-day for at-risk children currently eligible for public pre-k.

How Texas stacks up on pre-k

“The current, rigorous research is clear – there is no longer any question that publicly funded, high-quality pre-k programs play a critical role in closing the achievement gap, both in the short and long-term, and that states are getting these results in a cost-sustainable manner” said Dr. Pianta.

The report’s recommendations include:

  1. Fund high-quality, targeted full-day pre-k for currently eligible students
  2. Implement structural quality elements such as:
    • required standards and curricula
    • pre-k specific preparation and professional development for teachers
    • effective adult-child ratios to promote learning
  3. Require uniform measurement, data collection and oversight
    • require participation in Texas Student Data System
    • require districts to collect and report data regarding children’s learning and teachers’ skills
    • provide sufficient staff to ensure effective program management and oversight

According to the report, multi-state evaluations demonstrate “academic gains can be maintained at least through third grade and in many instances, beyond.” To achieve those types of gains, the report says Texas must commit additional staff resources: “No state with a pre-k program has less state-level capacity (in terms of absolute numbers of staff) to monitor and oversee pre-k than does Texas – even states as small as Delaware.”1

“Providing currently eligible populations with access to high-quality, full-day pre-kindergarten probably represents the single most powerful reform tool at our disposal to give every Texas child a fair shot at success in school and in life, and to improve performance in public schools across the state,” said Dr. David Anthony, CEO of Raise Your Hand Texas.

To learn more, and to download the full research report or executive summary, please visit

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About Raise Your Hand Texas
Raise Your Hand Texas is a non-profit, non-partisan organization advancing public education by igniting fiercely innovative leadership and advocacy for our state’s 5 million+ students. We invest in best-in-class programs to develop an innovative new breed of leaders for Texas public schools, and lead research-driven public policy advocacy that elevates the quality of Texas public education, ensuring that our economy remains strong and Texas’ future remains bright. Visit to learn more.

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1. The Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition v. Williams, Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, FOF 556 (August 28, 2014)