Conference Agenda

About the Conference

At the conference, CROCUS experts will reveal lessons learned from their path-breaking research study on government-funded pre-K in Oklahoma, one of the poorest states in America. For more than two decades, Dr. Bill Gormley and Dr. Deborah Phillips, co-directors of CROCUS, and a multidisciplinary team of researchers have been studying the effects of Oklahoma’s universal pre-K (UPK) program, focusing on the city of Tulsa, which has the largest school district in the state of Oklahoma. The researchers’ primary interest has been the short- and long-term effects of Tulsa Public Schools’ (TPS) pre-K program, which is available on a voluntary basis, free of charge, to all four-year-olds in the state.

Sixteen years after they began studying a single cohort of Tulsa pre-K students, the CROCUS team is ready to unveil their latest set of key findings on the effects of TPS’ early childhood education programs. Georgetown University researchers will uncover a wide range of outcomes, focusing on disadvantaged students in particular, from high school graduation and college enrollment to participation in civic life.

Attendees will hear from leading experts about the effects of pre-K that persist through adulthood and if the long-term benefits of UPK exceed the short-term costs, how and why Oklahoma became a leader in early childhood education, and the public policy implications that could determine whether similar programs could be successfully implemented across America. 

Conference Agenda

(The conference will take place in the Hariri Building’s Lohrfink Auditorium. The following details are listed in the Eastern Time Zone.)

8:30 AM — Welcome Remarks

9:00 AM — Panel Discussion 1: The short-terms gains that set pre-K students apart

Experts will discuss whether children who attend school-based pre-K or Head Start are better off in the short term and if the early childhood education instruction in Tulsa has been successful in laying the groundwork for more refined and complex skills later on.

10:00 AM — Panel Discussion 2: Persistence and fadeout after a preschool boost

Experts will discuss which skills acquired during preschool persist through elementary school.

11:00 AM — Panel Discussion 3: Do the effects of pre-K persist through early adulthood?

Experts will discuss whether students who attended pre-K are more likely to be successful and responsible into early adulthood and if the long-term benefits of universal pre-K exceed the short-term costs.

12:00 PM — Lunch in Copley Formal Lounge

1:00 PM — Keynote Conversation with Colorado Governor Jared Polis 

Gov. Polis, in conversation with Distinguished University Professor and Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, will discuss the impact of public support for universal pre-K in Colorado and his vision for the future of Colorado’s newly-enacted, voter-approved and state-funded preschool program, from the consolidation of early childhood programs under a new Department of Early Childhood to the cost savings to parents across the state.

1:45 PM — Panel Discussion 4: How and why one of the poorest states in America became a leader in early childhood education and what lies ahead

Experts will discuss how educators, elected officials and advocates built a movement in support of high-quality early childhood education and how the state of Oklahoma continues to improve universal pre-K program delivery.

2:45 PM — Panel Discussion 5: Environments that sustain early childhood successes

Experts will discuss the variables at play in maintaining the benefits of early childhood education — from elementary school curriculum to the quality of middle schools and high schools. 

3:45 PM — Panel Discussion 6: Key lessons for policymakers

Experts will discuss whether Oklahoma’s universal pre-K program could be replicated elsewhere in the U.S. and the government interventions necessary to ensure successful implementation of early childhood education programs.

4:35 PM — Closing Remarks

5:00-6:00 PM — Reception in Copley Formal Lounge