The Influence of Elementary School Quality on Differential Effects of Preschool Programs in Third Grade



Mumma, Kaitlyn

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The phenomenon known as “preschool fadeout” suggests that differences between children that do and do not attend preschool, and between children who attend different types of preschool often disappear around the third grade. Elementary school quality may moderate preschool fadeout, but so far findings are mixed. Results from ANOVA and ANCOVA analyses on longitudinal data from the Miami School Readiness Project (MSRP) (N = 27,814) found that children who attended family childcare (FCC) go on to attend schools of worse quality than children who attended center-based care (CBC) or public school pre-K (pre-K). Further analyses show that sustained effects from preschool are present in third grade, with pre-K students performing the best academically in third grade, followed by CBC students, and lastly by FCC students. Elementary school quality moderated the degree of fadeout between groups. CBC students significantly outperform FCC students at the lowest quality schools, but these gaps decrease as school quality increases – indicating sustained effects at low-quality schools, but full fadeout/convergence at the highest-quality schools. When comparing pre-K students to CBC students, sustained effects are present across all levels of school quality, but increase as school quality increases. I also found several significant three-way interaction effects: school quality-by-preschool type-by-ethnicity of particular interest. Hispanic students out-performed Black students at all but the lowest quality schools, and for Hispanic students, the pre-K advantage is most evident at schools of the lowest quality. The pre-K advantage is smaller for Hispanic students at average or better schools, and remains constant as quality increases. For Black students, the pre-K advantage is the least evident at lowest-quality schools, slightly larger at average or better schools, and remains stable as quality increases. Policy implications will be discussed.



Elementary school, School quality, Preschool programs, Preschool fadeout