Boosting School Readiness
Should Preschool Teachers Target Skills or the Whole Child?
Published in: Economics of Education Review [Epub May 2018]. doi:10.1016/j.econedurev.2018.05.001
Posted on RAND.org on May 22, 2018
We use experimental data to estimate impacts on school readiness of different kinds of preschool curricula—a largely neglected preschool input and measure of preschool quality. We find that the widely-used "whole-child" curricula found in most Head Start and pre-K classrooms produced higher classroom process quality than did locally-developed curricula, but failed to improve children's school readiness. A curriculum focused on building mathematics skills increased both classroom math activities and children's math achievement relative to the whole-child curricula. Similarly, curricula focused on literacy skills increased literacy achievement relative to whole-child curricula, despite failing to boost measured classroom process quality.