Early Education / The Long-Term Benefits of Pre-Kindergarten Enrollment

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Early Education

The Long-Term Benefits of Pre-Kindergarten Enrollment

Nationally, the importance of early learning is well documented. Longitudinal research shows the positive impact of high-quality Pre-Kindergarten even beyond third grade. As 90% of brain development occurs by age five, [1] the short-term and long-term impacts of Pre-K are significant.

The important link between attending high-quality Pre-Kindergarten and meeting standards in Kindergarten Readiness, and subsequently 3rd Grade Reading, has been confirmed in numerous studies over the years. Students who attend Pre-K have increased vocabulary and literacy, higher Kindergarten and first grade school readiness, increased likelihood of completing high school, and are less likely to be placed in special education and grade retention classes. [2]

With guidance from our Governing Board, Leadership Council, and partners, we annually measure community-level progress against 11 critical achievement indicators reflecting key milestones in a learner’s educational journey. Specifically, in the early childhood space, three important indicators are measured:

- Pre-K Enrollment, [3]

- Kindergarten Readiness, [4] and

- 3rd Grade Reading. [5]

On a state-wide level, only 40% of students meet Texas standards in early literacy by 3rd grade, ranking the state as 46th in the nation for early literacy (based on The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in 2017. 

A 2017 longitudinal study across multiple Independent School Districts in Dallas County shows significant impacts on Kindergarten Readiness and early literacy from Pre-K enrollment. 

Further analysis shows the impact of full day versus half day Pre-K is profound (especially among students of color), as Kindergarten Readiness gaps between students who were either eligible or ineligible to attend due to income are completely eliminated when full day Pre-K is implemented.

In Dallas ISD, attending full day Pre-K clearly impacts Kindergarten Readiness (students are nearly two times more likely to be Kindergarten Ready). Additionally, Kindergarten Readiness has a substantial impact on subsequent 3rd Grade Reading proficiency. Dallas ISD students who were Kindergarten Ready in 2011-12 were 3.2 times more likely to be proficient in 3rd Grade Reading four years later in 2015-16.

Ultimately, data has shown the short- and long-term benefits of providing a quality Pre-K education are substantial. Pre-registration for FREE Pre-K began on Monday, April 2nd, for students who qualify.

Families are eligible for FREE Pre-K if they meet ONE of the below five criteria:

- Their child qualifies for the national free or reduced-price lunch program

- Is a non-English speaker

- Is homeless

- Is or has been in foster care

- Is a dependent of an active-duty member of the U.S. military.

There are an estimated 37,014 eligible 3- and 4-year-olds currently not enrolled in Pre-K in Dallas County. If you are the parent, caregiver, sibling, friend or neighbor of a 3- or 4-year-old child, help make sure they get enrolled in quality Pre-K.

Different districts offer a variety of programs—full day, half-day, 3-year-old, tuition-based, bilingual, and partnerships with childcare sites. Visit to see what programs are available near you or text PREK to (972) 687-7735.

Most Dallas County districts and some districts in neighboring counties are participating - including Arlington, Cedar Hill, Crowley, Dallas, DeSoto, Duncanville, Fort Worth, Garland, Grand Prairie, Irving, Lancaster, Mesquite and Richardson. 


1. Zero to Five

2. Equity Starts Early: How Chiefs Will Build High Quality Early Education: A policy statement of the Council of Chief State School Officers, March 2016

3. Percentage of 3-and-4- year-olds enrolled in public Pre-K. Total number of Pre-K eligible students estimated based on number of first graders who were eligible for Pre-K.

4. Percentage of Kindergarteners passing district assessments conducted within the first 60 days of the start of the school year.

5. Percentage of students who achieved at the meets standard (postsecondary readiness), answering at least 76% of questions correctly on STAAR.

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