Early Childhood Education
Preschool for All: Evaluation of Programs for Children Ages 3–5
Fall 2009–Winter 2012
An evaluation of the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) Preschool for All programs was conducted by Erikson Institute working with SRI International beginning in the fall of 2008. The study aimed to provide a picture of the school readiness outcomes of children attending PFA programs, the characteristics and quality of the programs, and the characteristics of the children and families being served.
Researchers used a variety of measures to assess program quality and effect on students’ developmental and academic outcomes using measures such as observational scales, direct assessments of children’s language and math competency, and teacher, program administrator, and parent surveys. Over 500 programs returned surveys about their programs and practices, and over 100 programs and nearly 700 children participated in the more-in-depth component of the study.
The study found that PFA programs significantly improved language ability of participating children representing high and low income and at-risk status. Some children benefited in the development of soft skills, such as social skills, behavioral issues, and attention/task persistence; however, others did not. Children in the overall sample and from nearly every income and at-risk status experienced a decline in math skills during their time in the program.