Study: Preschool Education Beneficial

Article excerpt

A three-year, statewide study of 10,002 preschoolers from low- income families has shown a good education before kindergarten vastly improves a child's ability to learn.

Youngsters who aren't given the opportunity to socialize and learn from other children in a classroom setting quickly fall behind, said Dr. Stephen Bagnato, a University of Pittsburgh professor of pediatrics and psychology. He conducted the study, which was supported by a $1 million grant from The Heinz Endowments.

"By the time they go to kindergarten, they're a year and a half behind their friends," Bagnato said during a news conference Thursday to announce the results.

The study focused on children enrolled in Pre-K Counts classrooms -- a Pennsylvania Department of Education program for children ages 3 to kindergartners.

Bagnato said one major indicator of the value of pre-K education can be found in the number of children who are enrolled in special- education programs upon entering school.

Among "high-risk" low-income children, the rate historically has been 18 percent placement in special-education programs; but among children in the 21 schools districts participating in the Pre-K Counts program and examined by the study, the figure was only 2 percent. …