|Greg Cumpton, PhD and Michael Villarreal, MPP (Co-Principal Investigator)
|City of San Antonio
|March 2017 – December 2018
|Since the start of Texas’ public prekindergarten program, policymakers and education leaders have attempted to raise its quality. A recent survey of public prekindergarten programs found that 49 percent of local school districts offered students a full-day of prekindergarten; while 59 percent of districts adopted policies that limit class size, staff-to-student ratios, or both (Children at Risk, 2014). More recently, Governor Abbott has successfully advocated for funding to demonstrate and evaluate the effects of higher quality prekindergarten on student outcomes. At the local level, the City of San Antonio initiated an ambitious plan to demonstrate the value of high-quality prekindergarten by funding four demonstration centers, professional development for public school prekindergarten teachers, and grants to school districts to increase the quality of their programs.
Pre-K for SA (PK4SA) is the city agency leading the implementation of San Antonio’s prekindergarten investment. PK4SA has hired the Ray Marshall Center to be its research and evaluation partner to provide its first study of the effects of its high-quality prekindergarten on near and long-terms student outcomes. Moreover, PK4SA is engaging Ray Marshall Center to conduct its evaluation of PK4SA within a larger study of Texas’ public prekindergarten program with the goal of determining how the quality of public prekindergarten programs can be incrementally improved to have longer lasting positive effects on student outcomes.
High-quality early childhood education has proven to be a cost-efficient strategy for increasing the cognitive and non-cognitive abilities of participating students. This study extends the current research on early education by investigating heterogeneous effects on long-term student outcomes. This study will explore if certain programmatic aspects of prekindergarten have a greater effect on student outcomes than others. It will also explore if all student subgroups benefit from public prekindergarten and if certain groups benefit more than others. This study uses data from the state’s student longitudinal data system, which includes student outcomes from prekindergarten through their postsecondary education and employment. This study also benefits from the cooperation of local school districts in Bexar County who have agreed to share district tests of prekindergarten and kindergarten students. This supplemental data will be used in a regression discontinuity analysis to check the robustness of statewide results that are produced from a regression analysis using propensity score matching and fixed effect techniques.