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Timing in Early Childhood Education: How Cognitive and Achievement Program Impacts Vary by Starting Age, Program Duration, and Time Since the End of the Program

This paper uses meta-analytic techniques to estimate the separate effects of the starting age, program duration, and persistence of impacts of early childhood education programs on children’s cognitive and achievement outcomes. It concentrates on studies published before the wide scale penetration of state-pre-K programs. Specifically, data are drawn from 67 high-quality evaluation studies conducted between 1960 and 2007, which provide 993 effect sizes for analyses. When weighted for differential precision, effect sizes averaged .26 sd at the end of these programs. We find larger effect sizes for programs starting in infancy/toddlerhood than in the preschool years and, surprisingly, smaller average effect sizes at the end of longer as opposed to shorter programs. Our findings suggest that, on average, impacts decline geometrically following program completion, losing nearly half of their size within one year after the end of treatment. Taken together, these findings reflect a moderate level of effectiveness across a wide range of center-based programs and underscore the need for innovative intervention strategies to produce larger and more persistent impacts.

Keywords
meta-analysis; early childhood education; program impact; timing
Education level
Document Object Identifier (DOI)
10.26300/5tvg-nt21

EdWorkingPaper suggested citation:

Li, Weilin, Greg J. Duncan, Katherine Magnuson, Holly S. Schindler, Hirokazu Yoshikawa, and Jimmy Leak. (). Timing in Early Childhood Education: How Cognitive and Achievement Program Impacts Vary by Starting Age, Program Duration, and Time Since the End of the Program. (EdWorkingPaper: -201). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University: https://doi.org/10.26300/5tvg-nt21

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