November 12, 2015

Contact: 
W. Steven Barnett, (848) 932-4350, sbarnett@nieer.org
Daniel J. Quinn, (517) 240-2940, dquinn@greatlakescenter.org

Universal preschool report unhelpful, misleading, a review finds

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Nov. 12, 2015) – A new Brookings Institution project called "Evidence Speaks" claims in a recent report that advocates exaggerate unmet need as well as the cost of universal pre-kindergarten. Unfortunately, an academic review of the report released today finds the report vastly underestimates unmet need and costs.  According to the review, both estimates are based on serious factual errors and unfounded assumptions.

The report, Do We Already Have Universal Preschool?, was reviewed for the Think Twice think tank review project by Professor Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University.  Think Twice is a project of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The report estimates that 69 percent of all four-year-olds already attend preschool and that universal access tops out at 80 percent enrollment.  However, in his review, Barnett finds that the report vastly underestimates unmet need as well as the costs (estimated at $2 to $4 billion per year). Additionally, the report also fails to account for issues of quality.

According to Barnett, access for four-year-olds to high quality preschool (as opposed to attendance in any preschool classroom, no matter the quality) is actually under 25 percent, not 69 percent. Barnett also points out that high quality universal pre-kindergarten could enroll more than 90 percent, not 80 percent, of children.

Regarding the overall usefulness of the report, Barnett determines, "The report's conclusions regarding needs and the costs to meet them are invalid and misleading, and it should not be used as a basis for policymaking."

Read the full review at:
http://www.greatlakescenter.org

Find Do We Already Have Universal Preschool? on the web:
http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/research/files/papers/2015/09/evidence-speaks/evidence-speaks-report-vol1.pdf

Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, provides the public, policymakers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible by funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The review can also be found on the NEPC website:
http://nepc.colorado.edu

- ### -

Friend on Facebook

Follow on Twitter

The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education, Research & Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develp reasearch-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.

Visit the Great Lakes Center website at http://www.greatlakescenter.org/