Dallas study shows benefits of early childhood education

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

High-quality preschool programs can help children from low-income communities be more successful in elementary school, initial results from a study show.
Researchers found that students in the Dallas school district who had received services from certain early childhood education programs outperformed their classmates from similar backgrounds, officials said.

“What it told us was that first- and second-graders were not only on task but exceeded the average in math and reading. That was critical to us because we know that just because they’re poor doesn’t mean they can’t learn,” said Merriott Terry, president and chief executive officer of Educational First Steps, a Dallas nonprofit organization that sponsored the study.

The study was conducted by the University of Texas at Dallas, and more complete results are expected next month.


The study looked at students in kindergarten through second grade who had attended preschool centers affiliated with Educational First Steps.

An analysis of data showed that those students scored higher on standardized tests in reading and math than their peers, said Richard Scotch, professor of sociology and public policy at UT-Dallas.

Educational First Steps supports early childhood education for disadvantaged children up to age 5.

The group works with about 70 Dallas-area child-care centers to improve educational programs by providing one-on-one mentoring and training to teachers, supplying learning tools and materials, and giving teacher scholarships for certificates and degrees in early childhood education.


The impact of high-quality early education, particularly for lower-income children, will be a key topic Friday at the Early Education Summit at the World Trade Center in Dallas. The event is expected to draw more than 150 community leaders, elected officials and child-care administrators.

On Saturday, nearly 350 area caregivers and early education providers will meet for a daylong conference at the trade center. Registration is closed for the summit.

Online: www.childcaregroup.org , www.educationalfirststeps.org


Posted on Thu, Sep. 04, 2008
By JESSAMY BROWN – jessamybrown@star-telegram.com