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Research Questions

  1. What were the experiences of the 2016–2017 kindergarten class? Specifically, what are the participation rates in Big Lift services from preschool through third grade? How do the third-grade outcomes of children who enrolled in Big Lift preschool compare with those of children who enrolled in non–Big Lift preschool or did not attend preschool?
  2. Among children in all available kindergarten classes who were eligible for all Big Lift services before kindergarten, how do kindergarten readiness skills compare among children who experienced different combinations of Big Lift preschool and the Big Lift Inspiring Summers (BLIS) program before kindergarten?

The Big Lift™ (Big Lift), a preschool–third-grade collective impact initiative in San Mateo County, California, aims to boost children's reading proficiency through four coordinated pillars: High-Quality Preschool, Family Engagement, Summer Learning, and Attendance. This report—part of a multiphase evaluation—is the fourth in a series of studies focused on the early learning outcomes of children in several kindergarten classes who received Big Lift services as part of the High-Quality Preschool and Summer Learning pillars. In this report, the authors examine the experiences and third-grade outcomes of the 2016–2017 kindergarten class, the first set of children who participated in the initiative to reach third grade. Specifically, they analyze two third-grade measures: attendance and English language reclassification status. In addition, the authors look across all the kindergarten classes for which they have data and explore the relationship between children's participation in Big Lift services prior to kindergarten and their kindergarten readiness.

Key Findings

  • A little less than half of the 2016–2017 kindergarten class participated in at least one service in the Big Lift High-Quality Preschool and Summer Learning pillars by third grade. Participation rates were higher among children from households with very low annual incomes for the county.
  • In third grade, children who attended Big Lift preschool had higher rates of attendance and English language reclassification status than children who did not attend any preschool, family and child characteristics held constant. No significant differences were found between Big Lift preschoolers and children who attended non–Big Lift preschools.
  • About half of all children in the 2016–2017 through 2019–2020 kindergarten classes began school kindergarten-ready.
  • Among children who were likely eligible to attend BLIS, children who attended both Big Lift preschool and BLIS before kindergarten were more likely to be kindergarten-ready than demographically similar children who attended only Big Lift preschool or who attended only BLIS without attending preschool.
  • Children who attended BLIS following enrollment in a non–Big Lift preschool program were more likely to be kindergarten-ready than children who did not attend BLIS following a non–Big Lift preschool program, demographic characteristics held constant.
  • Among children who did not attend any preschool, there were no statistically significant differences in kindergarten readiness between those who did and those who did not attend BLIS, although the lack of a significant result might be due to small sample sizes.

Research conducted by

This study was commissioned by Big Lift with generous funding from the County of San Mateo and conducted by RAND Education and Labor.

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