Attending Cleveland Preschools Increases Third Grade Reading Proficiency

Center on Poverty and Community Development   (Cleveland)

February 2016

The Poverty Center's co-director, Dr. Rob Fischer, was interviewed for an article by the Cleveland Plain Dealer from February 1st, titled "Cleveland and county preschools help kids read better through third grade, new study shows."

Fischer is one of the authors of a recent study from the Poverty Center and the Ohio Education Research Center concerning the impact of preschool attendance on third grade reading proficiency, "Investigating the Pathway to Proficiency from Birth through 3rd Grade".

This study measures the effect of attending quality preschools on both kindergarten readiness scores, as measured by the Kindergarten Reading Assessment - Literacy (KRA-L), and third grade reading test scores. They found that attendance at a Cleveland school district preschool or a Universal Pre-Kindergarten program preschool increased the chances of a child passing Ohio's Third Grade Reading Guarantee requirements by 29%. "The 29 percent increase is a strong one. Of all the factors that lead to better reading scores, attending a quality preschool through the district or UPK is the third-highest," said Dr. Fischer.

Some critics of federal funding for public preschools have cited a "fade-out" phenomena seen in multiple national studies, where increases seen in kindergarten have disappeared by third grade. However, this study stands out, in that "there is no evidence here supporting any conclusions about fade-out," Dr. Fischer said. An earlier local study had found that preschool attendance led to higher kindergarten readiness scores, while a separate study found that betterĀ kindergarten readiness led to higher third grade reading scores. This study bridges the gap between these previous findings to provide a more complete picture.

For more information, read our 2013 evaluation on the findings from the first five years of the Universal Pre-Kindergarten Pilot in Cuyahoga County.