You could probably guess that attending a quality pre-K program results in better kindergarten readiness with improved vocabulary and skills. But research also shows that young children’s earliest learning experiences can have powerful long-term effects on their lives. Investing in quality pre-K programs yields a long list of benefits that go beyond test scores. Early learning impacts everything from cognitive and emotional growth to social achievement and adult life outcomes. Cognitive growth includes sensory and motor interactions with the world, as well as verbal skills.

Access to quality pre-K programs is an important part of helping youngsters get ready for school and a brighter future beyond. Unfortunately, research shows that many American preschoolers do not have access to high-quality early learning experiences. Only 40% of 4-year-olds and less than 15% of 3-year-olds are served by quality pre-K programs across the country.


  • Access to quality pre-K opportunities is good for our communities and country. We know that quality pre-K makes a positive difference in a child’s ability to be successful in kindergarten and later in life. [1]

  • Research has found that students who participate in quality pre-K opportunities have improved learning outcomes, increase their educational success (more likely to graduate high school), earn higher income as adults, and produce long-term reductions in unemployment and crime. [2]

  • Pre-K benefits all children but has an even greater impact on disadvantaged children and children of color. [3]

  • Pre-K can help narrow achievement gaps while boosting learning for all students. [4]

  • Many American preschoolers do not have access to high-quality early learning opportunities, resulting in significant disparities in children’s early learning experiences. Research demonstrates that students who are enrolled in quality pre-kindergarten [5] and full-day kindergarten [6]  learn foundational skills that support their continued literacy development.

  • Research shows that 3rd-grade reading proficiency is positively correlated with pre-K and kindergarten attendance, resulting in as much as a 16% – 25% increase in proficiency for African American, Latino, and ELL students.


Arizona Stand has partnered with the Arizona Early Childhood Alliance (AZECA) where our executive director has served as the co-chair and the leadership team of Read on Arizona —  both of which organizations are working at the grassroots level to help parents engage in early literacy activities.

We also advocate for additional early childhood funding and conduct parent trainings in school districts across Arizona about the importance of quality kindergarten experiences and Smart Talk.


[1]  Barnett, W. Steven, Kwanghee Jung, Allison Friedman-Krauss, Ellen C Frede, Milagros Nores, Jason T Hustedt, Carollee Howes, and Marijata Daniel-Echols. "State Prekindergarten Effects on Early Learning at Kindergarten Entry: An Analysis of Eight State Programs." AERA Open 4.2 (2018): 16. Web.

[2]  Center for American Progress. Quality 101: Identifying the Core Components of a High-Quality Early Childhood Program. 

[3]  Weiland, Christina, and Hirokazu Yoshikawa. "Impacts of a Prekindergarten Program on Children's Mathematics, Language, Literacy, Executive Function, and Emotional Skills." Child Development 84.6 (2013): 2112-130. Web.

[4]  Valentino, R. (2018). Will Public Pre-K Really Close Achievement Gaps? Gaps in Prekindergarten Quality Between Students and Across States. American Educational Research Journal, 55(1), 79–116.

[5]  Weiland, C., & Yoshikawa, H. (2013). Impacts of a prekindergarten program on children's mathematics, language, literacy, executive function, and emotional skills. Child Development, 84(6), 2112-2130.

[6]  Lee, V. E., Burkam, D. T., Ready, D. D., Honigman, J., & Meisels, S. J. (2006). Full-day versus half-day kindergarten: In which program do children learn more? American Journal of Education, 112(2), 163-208.

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