There is strong evidence showing that young children who participate in high-quality pre-K programs enter school more ready to learn than their peers. The national Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—Kindergarten Cohort shows that students who attended a pre-K program scored higher on reading and math tests than children receiving parental care. Another study involving five states: Michigan, New Jersey, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and West Virginia found that children in state pre-K scored 31 percent higher on vocabulary tests and 44 percent higher on math tests than those of non-participants. These gains placed pre-K children three to four months ahead of non-participants. The greatest gains occurred in print awareness, where children participating in pre-K had an 85 percent increase, which suggests these outcomes strongly predict later reading success.
Pre-K programs also have long-term effects on children. Longitudinal research conducted by Perry Preschool, Abecedarian shows that children that participated in high quality pre-K programs were more likely to graduate from high school, compared with 60 percent of children who didn’t. In adulthood, pre-K participants were also less likely to be arrested for violent crimes, more likely to be employed, and more likely to earn higher wages than those in the comparison group.