Graduation Date

4-2015

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department or Program

Education

Department or Program Chair

Elizabeth Truesdell, Ph.D.

First Reader

Madalienne F. Peters, Ed.D.

Second Reader

Elizabeth Truesdell, Ph.D.

Abstract

Despite federal and state investments in early education intervention programs,achievement gaps continue to afflict the education system with children from low-income families having an increased need for high quality preschool education. When children from underprivileged families move through the education system, the chances of academic success becomes difficult as the education gap increases year after year, and they fall farther behind. By the time these students enter high school, they are behind academically and unable to meet grade level requirements. Many of them to give up and quit attending school, leading to an increase in the dropout rate.

Research indicates that if high quality interventions are made during the preschool years, disadvantaged students are provided with benefits in language, literacy, social and academic skills. These skills, provided in the preschool years carry through into adolescence. The outcome for students is a successful educational experience, increasing high school graduation rates, and ultimately decreasing the dropout out rate in the community.

Families who cannot afford to pay for preschool have children entering kindergarten with privileged children who are already familiar with class structure, daily routines, socializing with peers, and who have experienced an introduction to academics. Children of low-income families have not had the chance to practice or participate in any of these experiences, and yet they are entering a program where the social and academic expectations are the same for both groups of students.

The purpose of this study is to analyze the benefits and the advantages of providing public preschool to families, who otherwise could not afford it. The long-term negative effects on children who did not have the opportunity to attend preschool are also described.

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