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Harvard study: BPS early education programs lead to long-term learning gains and help close achievement gaps

A Harvard study published by the Society for Research in Child Development finds the academic gains achieved by students in Boston Public Schools’ early childhood education programs are the “largest found to date in evaluations of large-scale public prekindergarten programs.” According to the study, academic gains were particularly strong for Latino children, with African American students also showing significant, sustained gains in reading skills that last throughout elementary school.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino has led the expansion of the city’s pre-kindergarten programs, which began with the opening of three early education centers in 1998, to a total of 700 students served in 2005 and more than 2,300 students served every year today.

“Giving our students a strong and early start has been one of my top priorities. We will continue to expand these great programs,” said Mayor Menino. “This research confirms that Boston leads the way nationally. We have always known our pre-kindergarten teachers are the very best at what they do, and we are proud that this Harvard study backs them up.”

BPS currently offers K1 seats in 85% of elementary schools, Early Learning Centers and K-8 schools. 22 of these programs have earned national accreditation for early childhood programming from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
 
“We are proud to offer and see results in our high quality early education programs. We know that giving our children a good early start is the best investment we can make in our city’s future. Our work to close achievement gaps begins the moment a student sets foot in one of our classrooms. The earlier we can reach that student, the better,” said Superintendent Johnson.

The Harvard study tracked the academic progress of approximately two thousand children who enrolled in a BPS pre-kindergarten program. It found that the programs had a clear positive impact. The study appears in the journal Child Development. For more information, visit the Society for Research in Child Development website, http://www.srcd.org.
 
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