Narrowing the Achievement Gap
High-quality early childhood education is a critical component of K-12 success, and research shows it can help close the achievement gap. By increasing access to high quality early childhood development supports, we have the opportunity to ensure children are ready to learn and succeed in school, compete in the global economy and contribute to thriving communities. Disadvantaged children, who are more likely to start school behind and stay behind, are also the least likely to attend high-quality preschool programs, according to research by the RAND Corporation.
As the graph below shows, children from low income families know fewer than 1/3 as many words at age four than wealthier children.
The Economic Case for Investing in Our Future Workforce
Early childhood education is a proven long-term investment that stimulates economic growth and ensures future prosperity. Right now, every dollar put toward early childhood education is both an educational and economic stimulus for American families – creating jobs and enabling parents to earn while their children learn. Economists have found that high-quality early childhood education offers one of the highest returns of any public investment – more than $7 for every dollar spent.
The good news is that we know how to dramatically boost our children’s chances for success. Neuroscientists have found early experiences – particularly from birth to age five – shape whether their brains develop a strong foundation for the learning and behavior that follow.
- Advances in brain research tell us that by the age of 5, more than 90 percent of the architecture of the brain is already in place.
- Proven programs such as voluntary home visiting maximize early childhood health and development during the critical first three years of life.
- Children in a longitudinal study who had attended preschool were less likely to drop out of high school, be placed in special education and held back a grade, and they scored better on reading and math achievement tests.
- Early childhood education saves government spending on K-12 education, public assistance and the criminal justice system, and increases tax revenues as a result of higher earnings.
- The U.S. Department of Labor projects that 70 percent of the 30 fastest growing jobs nationally will require education beyond high school. In a globally competitive workplace we can no longer allow our children to enter school unprepared to learn and succeed.
- Early care and education is a major industry in its own right. At a time when job creation is a top priority, it provides tens of thousands of jobs in communities.