Early education might not be the ticket to success.
While debt-ridden California is struggling with the fact that kindergarten class-sizes are continuing to grow (and teachers everywhere are being laid off), a new study now says that kindergarten is not as crucial as most parents would like to think.
According to Dartmouth economics professor Elizabeth Cascio, "enrolling students in kindergarten and other early-education programs may have little effect on their future success." Currently, kindergarten is not mandatory in all states.
The study looked at the "relative success" of kids born between 1954 and 1978 in 24 states. Cascio found that kindergarten attendance had little to no effect on students' future achievement. In fact, there was no strong correlation found between kindergarten attendance and higher salaries after graduation from high school.
The study comes at a time when districts are debating whether to expand universal education to include preschool -- which is why Cascio believes it can be used as a tool to determine if the benefits of early education outweigh the costs. "If we want to look at the [potential] long-term effects of proposed programs," she says, "it is useful to look at the long-term effects of past programs."
Cascio admits that the results of her study might change dramatically if preschool becomes mandatory. "The truth will only be discovered in the years to come," she says.