How states can optimize their pre-K programs: An interview with Greg Duncan, Professor, UC Irvine, and Member, Pre-Kindergarten Task Force – Episode #143

Forty-two states and the District of Columbia spent $6.2 billion in state funds on pre-kindergarten programs in 2015, highlighting the emphasis that policymakers are placing on pre-k to help students prepare for elementary school. Research has shown both the success of pre-K as well as inconclusive evidence about the sustainability of those gains as children become older. Those findings raise the question: How can states optimize their pre-K programs to provide both the strongest early learning boost and a solid foundation for future learning?

Recently, a group of leading pre-K researchers set out to find consensus about what we know about pre-K education. In April 2017 the Pre-Kindergarten Task Force presented their findings. To learn more, we are are joined by a member of the task force, Greg Duncan. He is a Distinguished Professor in the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine.

In the interview, Duncan summarizes the research evidence around four key decisions (policy levers) facing state policymakers related to pre-K: (1) Whether to fund more or fewer pre-K slots; (2) Whether and how to regulate classroom quality; (3) Whether and how to prescribe curriculum; and (4) How to support the gains of pre-K after children leave pre-K, i.e., in the elementary school years.