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Pre-K Program Benefits Last Into Middle School, New Study Finds

December 12, 2017 – Positive effects of pre-K programs are detectable as late as middle school, according to a new study published today by two Georgetown professors.

The study, the first of its kind to evaluate the effects of a universal, public school pre-K program on middle school outcomes, was authored by McCourt School of Public Policy professor William Gormley, Georgetown psychology professor Deborah Phillips and Sara Anderson of Child Trends.

The article, “The Effects of Tulsa’s Pre-K Program on Middle School Student Performance,” appears today in the current issue of Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

Critical Thinking – William Gormley has written a new book on critical thinking and K-12 education “The Critical Advantage: Developing Critical Thinking Skills in School“, published by the Harvard Education Press (2017). Critical thinking has received growing attention in recent years but is often misunderstood.  Business leaders agree that hiring people with strong critical thinking skills is a high priority.  Although many teachers emphasize critical thinking skills in their classrooms, much more remains to be done.  Ideally, K-12 educators will provide scaffolding that promotes college readiness, career readiness and civic readiness through critical thinking.

Case studies can be especially helpful in promoting civic readiness and related skills.  Gormley discusses these issues in an interview with the Harvard Education Press.  

Other Recent News Releases – For CROCUS study of the impact of the CAP of Tulsa County Head Start program on middle school outcomes, see   “The Effects of Tulsa’s CAP Head Start Program on Middle-School Academic Outcomes and Progress” (Developmental Psychology, 2016).  For Brookings Institution study on the current state of scientific knowledge of pre-K effects (2017), see “Puzzling it out: The current state of scientific knowledge on pre-kindergarten effects”.   For a primer on how to evaluate state and local pre-K programs, prepared by the Georgetown Psychology Department, see “The Evaluation Roadmap for Optimizing Pre-K Programs.” 

Center for Research on Children in the U.S. (CROCUS) – Since its founding in 2001, CROCUS faculty and students have worked on a variety of projects relating to children and public policy. Many of them have focused on early childhood education, including pre-K, child care, and Head Start. A joint venture between the McCourt School of Public Policy and the Department of Psychology at Georgetown University, CROCUS is directed by William Gormley (University Professor, Professor of Government & Public Policy) and Deborah Phillips (Professor of Psychology, Vice Dean of Faculty, College of Arts & Sciences). Over the years, funding has come from: the Foundation for Child Development, the Heising-Simons Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trusts (through NIEER), the Spencer Foundation, the Stranahan Foundation, the A.L. Mailman Family Foundation, and the National Institute for Child Health and Development.