Closing the achievement gap between low and higher income children is not happening even though more children are enrolled in preschool say experts from the National Institute for Early Education at Rutgers. Digging into the data helps explain why.
Children from low income families are less likely to enroll in center-based preschool. Staff at those schools are of uneven quality. A early childhood longitudinal study reports that one-third of all center based programs meet criteria for high quality. When evaluating full day programs only, the proportion drops to ten percent. Poor quality programs are disproportionately located in low income areas.
Significant decreases in achievement gaps were reported in Tulsa and Boston when children were enrolled in high quality programs. Gaps between higher income white and minority children all but disappeared. For lower income children, gaps were cut in half. Oklahoma and Boston have high quality programs that include certified teachers on public school salary scales.