Revisiting PreK Scaling for Sustained Effects

By: Arthur J. Reynolds

Given the focus on universal preschool under President Biden’s American Families Plan, it is important to highlight the successes of past efforts and their implications for today. In an HCRC report by Reynolds and colleagues in August 2017 (Scaling and Sustaining Effective Early Childhood Programs Through School–Family–University Collaboration; Open Access) described effective approaches for planning and implementing PreK programs for sustained effects. A summary of the article follows:

We describe the development, implementation, and evaluation of a comprehensive PreK to Third Grade model for the goal of sustaining services at a large scale. The Midwest Child–Parent Center (CPC) Expansion is a multilevel collaborative school reform model designed to improve school achievement and parental involvement in children’s education. By increasing the dosage, coordination, and comprehensiveness of services, the program is expected to enhance the transition to school and promote more enduring effects on well-being in multiple domains. We review and evaluate evidence from two longitudinal studies (Midwest CPC, 2012 to present; Chicago Longitudinal Study, 1983 to present) and four implementation examples of how the guiding principles of shared ownership, committed resources, and progress monitoring for improvement can promote effectiveness. The implementation system of partners and further expansion using “Pay for Success” financing shows the feasibility of scaling the program while continuing to improve effectiveness.