Working Paper: Inequality in Preschool Quality


Full Title: Inequality in Preschool Quality? Community-Level Disparities in Access to High-Quality Learning Environments

Full Abstract: In recent years, unequal access to high quality preschool has emerged as a growing public policy concern. Due to data limitations, it is notoriously difficult to measure disparities in access to early learning opportunities across communities and particularly challenging to quantify gaps in access to high-quality programs. Research Findings: Using unique data from Georgia’s Universal Pre-Kindergarten program, this study provides empirical evidence on the relationship between community characteristics and the availability of high-quality preschool opportunities. We show that in Georgia, a national leader with respect to preschool access as well as quality, there are still meaningful differences in quality across communities. Low-income and high-minority communities offer state preschool classroom that are rated significantly lower on a widely-used and validated measure of classroom process quality. Practice and Policy: This “process quality gap” is troubling given the positive relationship between our process quality measure and children’s learning. Notably, we do not see similar gaps in structural measures of quality, which are the aspects of quality more often regulated but are also weaker, inconsistent predictors of children’s learning. Implications for policy are discussed.

This EdPolicyWorks Working Paper is now published. This published study is available at:
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10409289.2015.1057463

Please cite as:
Bassok, D. & Galdo, E. (2016) Inequality in Preschool Quality? Community-Level Disparities in Access to High-Quality Learning Environments. Early Education and Development, 27(1), 128-144, DOI: 10.1080/10409289.2015.1057463

EdPolicyWorks Working Paper Series No. 37. Updated January 2016.