Wednesday, June 18, 2008

RAND's CALIFORNIA PRESCHOOL STUDY: Adequacy and Efficiency of Preschool Education in California

Go to RAND HomeAdequacy and Efficiency of Preschool Education in California


Principal Investigator | Lynn Karoly | RAND Corporation

 Preschool boy with blocks

June 18, 2008 — California's sizeable achievement gaps in English-language arts and mathematics in second and third grades have early roots, with the same groups of children that lag in academic performance in elementary school trailing in measures of school readiness when they enter kindergarten. Participation in effective preschool programs has the potential to narrow these gaps, but the state's current system of publicly funded early care and education programs are not designed to maximize the child development and school readiness benefits. New data collected for the project on preschool use and quality shows most California children attend center-based preschools, but quality of programs falls short. 

These findings are highlighted in the first three reports from the California Preschool Study:

Featured Research


Prepared to Learn: The Nature and Quality of Early Care and Education for Preschool-Age Children in California - June 18, 2008

Lynn Karoly, Bonnie Ghosh-Dastidar, Gail Zellman, Michal Perlman, Lynda Fernyhough

This report examines the use and quality of early care and education programs for preschool-age children in California and differences across socioeconomic and demographic groups. There is room for improvement in both quality and participation.

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Who Is Ahead and Who Is Behind? Gaps in School Readiness and Student Achievement in the Early Grades for California's Children — Nov. 08, 2007

Jill S. Cannon, Lynn A. Karoly

Describes which groups of California's children are falling short of proficiency in English-language arts and mathematics in the early elementary grades and evaluates the potential for well-designed preschool programs to close achievement gaps.

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Early Care and Education in the Golden State: Publicly Funded Programs Serving California's Preschool-Age Children — Nov. 08, 2007

Lynn A. Karoly, Elaine Reardon, Michelle Cho

Provides a comprehensive assessment of publicly funded early care and education programs for preschool-age children in California as a whole, and in four case-study counties: Los Angles, Merced, San Diego, and San Mateo.

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About the California Preschool Study

Faced with mounting evidence that California has fallen behind on many key indicators of educational performance, there is considerable interest among policymakers and the public in improving the outcomes of the state's K-12 education system. One potential area of investment is expanding access to high-quality preschool education so that California's children enter kindergarten ready to learn and succeed in meeting the state's educational standards. Within this context, this study seeks to address four overarching questions:

  • What are the achievement shortfalls and cross-group gaps for California's children in terms of the state's kindergarten through third grade (K–3) education standards and what is the potential for high-quality preschool programs to raise achievement?
  • How adequate is the quality of preschool education California children are receiving, and what proportion of families have access to high-quality preschool that would be expected to produce the cognitive, social, and emotional benefits necessary to help children achieve the state's early elementary standards?
  • What efficiencies can be obtained in the current system of funding for early care and education (ECE) programs serving children one or two years before kindergarten entry in order to improve K–3 education outcomes?
  • What additional ECE policies or resources would be required to ensure that all children in California are prepared to meet K–3 standards?

A multi-disciplinary RAND research team will address these questions through three inter-related studies that will collect new data and conduct original analysis to fill important gaps in our knowledge base regarding (1) achievement gaps among California children in the early grades; (2) the system of public funding in California for ECE programs in the two years prior to kindergarten entry; and (3) the utilization of ECE services among California's children and the quality of those experiences. A fourth synthesis study will integrate the results from the three focused studies, as well as relevant prior research, in order to answer the overarching research questions above.

Study Funding:The California Preschool Study is funded by:

Click here for more information on the household survey in English or Españolor the provider survey in English or Español.

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