Denver Preschool Program Evaluation
The Denver Preschool Program (DPP) is a sales tax-funded initiative in Denver County that was passed by voters in November 2006 to promote the participation of 4-year-olds in high-quality preschool experiences. DPP provides tuition credits to parents in Denver to increase the enrollment of 4-year-old children in preschool and improve the quality of preschools throughout the city. In turn, this program is expected to help children make an easier transition to kindergarten and, ultimately, to perform better academically in school.
Clayton Early Learning is collaborating with Augenblick, Palaich and Associates, Inc. (APA) to examine the program and its outcomes for children in their academic careers. We direct the component of the evaluation project that examines academic and socio-emotional outcomes for children who participate in the program.
Data now show that children participating in preschool with DPP support made significant progress in their academic and socio-emotional development during their preschool year, and that the vast majority of DPP children were ready for kindergarten, both academically and socio-emotionally. Three more DPP children than would be expected scored at or above the average on assessments of their vocabulary, literacy and math skills.
Results are particularly striking for the literacy and math assessments, where nearly three-quarters of DPP children scored at the average or above. Based on the way the assessments are scaled, one would only expect about half of children in the general population to score in this range. Spanish-speaking children also made progress in their Spanish literacy and math skills (assessed in Spanish) over the course of their preschool year. The gains observed were beyond what would be expected based on normal development.
Progress was observed in socio-emotional development as well. Over the course of the preschool year, teachers reported that DPP children demonstrated significantly more protective factors (i.e., initiative, self-control, and attachment) and fewer behavioral concerns.
- The vast majority of children participating in DPP leave the program both academically and socially/emotionally ready for kindergarten.
- Assessments show DPP children made academic progress in vocabulary, literacy and math during their preschool year. Gains were significantly above what is expected based on normal development.
- Children in DPP made significant progress in socio-emotional development, with teachers reporting significantly more positive behaviors and fewer behavioral concerns.