E. Regression Discontinuity Design: An Effectiveness-Based Evaluation of Five State Pre-Kindergarten Programs

Vivian C. Wong*, Thomas D. Cook, W. Steven Barnett, Kwanghee Jung

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Since 1980, the number of state pre-kindergarten (pre-K) programs has more than doubled, with 38 states enrolling more than one million children in 2006 alone. This study evaluates how five state pre-K programs affected children's receptive vocabulary, math, and print awareness skills. Taking advantage of states' strict enrollment policies determined by a child's date of birth, a regression-discontinuity design was used to estimate effects in Michigan, New Jersey, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and West Virginia. For receptive vocabulary, only New Jersey and Oklahoma yielded significant standardized impacts, though two of the three other coefficients were in a direction indicating positive effects. For math, all the coefficients were positive but only Michigan and New Jersey yielded reliable results. The largest impacts were for print awareness, where all five coefficients were positive and four were reliable in Michigan, New Jersey, South Carolina, and West Virginia. The five states were not randomly selected and, on average, have higher quality program standards than non-studied states, precluding formal extrapolation to the nation at large. However, our sample of states differed in many other ways, permitting the conclusion that state pre-K programs can have positive effects on children's cognitive skills, though the magnitude of these effects varies by state and outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSocial Experimentation, Program Evaluation, and Public Policy
Subtitle of host publicationE. Regression Discontinuity Design
PublisherBlackwell Publishing Ltd
Number of pages33
ISBN (Print)9781405193931
StatePublished - Apr 21 2009


  • Data Analysis: General Approach
  • Data Analysis: Specifics
  • Data Collection Procedure
  • Measures of School Readiness
  • Methodology
  • Prior Studies on State Pre-Kindergarten Programs
  • Results

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

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