The Long-Term Effects of Universal Preschool in Boston

Research Rundown Issue: May '21
Publisher: National Bureau of Economic Research
Date Published: May '21


Researchers estimated the long-term impact of preschool enrollment on a range of outcomes, comparing students who received seats in a lottery system to those who did not. The researchers found that preschool enrollment correlated with increased high school graduation, SAT test-taking, and on-time college enrollment. Those who attended preschool also saw a reduction in several disciplinary measures, including the total number of suspensions, truancy, and juvenile incarceration.

When broken down, their analysis found that the effects were larger for boys than for girls, but did not vary significantly based on students’ race and family income levels. The authors conclude by noting that their analysis shows the potential for universal access to preschool to improve education attainment for all students.

Why This Matters in Minnesota

Our youngest learners deserve to have high-quality early learning options that prepare them for kindergarten and beyond. Over the past decade, Minnesota has slowly begun to invest in both access and quality, but there is a long way to go to ensure that families have the support they need. There are proposals on the table to increase state funding for early learning scholarships, direct more federal funding to early learning scholarships, measure needs and outcomes through a kindergarten readiness assessment, and conduct an evaluation to support continuous improvement of the state’s Parent Aware quality rating system. All of these are important pieces of the puzzle in expanding access to preschool programming that we know can have long-term benefits for Minnesota students.

Read the analysis