Preschool Adequacy and Efficiency in California

Issues, Policy Options, and Recommendations

by Lynn A. Karoly

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Abstract

Facing mounting evidence that California has fallen behind on many key indicators of educational performance, policymakers and the public share considerable interest in exploring whether California should expand public funding for preschool education. This expanded funding will be most effective if resources can be directed to their most efficient uses. Doing so requires an understanding of how resources are currently allocated, what educational objectives preschool education can help achieve, and where preschool resources can be most effective. To investigate these issues, the RAND Corporation undertook a multicomponent study called the California Preschool Study to examine the adequacy and efficiency of preschool education in California. Researchers completed three studies to advance knowledge of (1) gaps in school readiness and achievement in the early grades among California children and the potential for high-quality preschool programs to close existing gaps, (2) the use of early care and education (ECE) services among California's children and the quality of those experiences, and (3) the system of publicly funded ECE programs in California in the two years before kindergarten entry. The objective of this analysis, the fourth and final study component, is to integrate the results from the series of studies, as well as relevant prior research, and make recommendations to advance preschool adequacy and efficiency in California.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Adequacy and Efficiency of Preschool Education in California

  • Chapter Three

    Design Options for State Preschool Systems

  • Chapter Four

    Recommendations for Preschool Policy in California

  • Chapter Five

    Conclusions

  • Appendix

    Supplement to the Targeting Analysis in Chapter Four

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was conducted by RAND Labor and Population. Funding was provided by The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, W. K. Kellogg Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, The National Institute for Early Education Research, The W. Clement and Jessie V. Stone Foundation, and Los Angeles Universal Preschool.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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