<br><h3> Chapter One </h3> <b>The Behavioral Consequences of Pre-Kindergarten Participation for Disadvantaged Youth</b> <p> David Figlio and Jeffrey Roth <p> <p> <b>1.1 Introduction</b> <p> Expanding access to pre-kindergarten for disadvantaged children has been widely advocated and hotly debated in recent years, and numerous state and local jurisdictions have introduced policies to offer pre-kindergarten to these populations. While the efficacy of Head Start and pre-kindergarten programs has been studied extensively, the focus of this line of research has been nearly exclusively on school readiness and student cognitive performance, with mixed evidence to date. The most compelling of these studies exploit cross-sibling comparisons (Currie and Thomas 2000; Garces, Thomas, and Currie 2002) and regression-discontinuity designs that take advantage of variation in Head Start funding rates (Ludwig and Miller 2007). These studies find general evidence that Head Start participation has long-term benefits in terms of schooling outcomes. <p> But from the inception of federal support to extend educational opportunity to three- and four-year-old low-income children, there has been a consistent dual emphasis on cognitive and social development. To the planners of Head Start in 1964, preparing disadvantaged youth to succeed in school required a "whole child" approach, one in which not only academic knowledge but also behavioral competence would be emphasized (Zigler and Styfco 2004). In addition to Head Start, the federal government also began to aid state efforts to provide local community-sponsored preschools through the mechanism of the Child Care and Development Block Grant program. This flow-through program subsidized child care programs whose quality standards were allowed to vary a great deal more than Head Start's. To supporters of Head Start, these state-subsidized early childhood programs "do not pretend to have anything to do with school readiness. They are essentially custodial programs whose only purpose is to enable poor parents to enter the work force" (Zigler and Styfco 2004, 53). <p> This issue—that preschool separates parents from children during crucial years of their development as a result of either an elective or required return to the workforce—remains at the heart of the debate over its potentially zero-sum benefit/ harm ratio. Disadvantaged children may receive sufficient academic stimulation to compensate for missing or insufficient parental instruction, yet this cognitive benefit may be offset by two negatives: (a) low income children congregate in poor quality child care settings where unfamiliarity with appropriate social interaction is mutually reinforced; and (b) initiation into socially acceptable norms of behavior is conducted not consistently by family members but intermittently by a stranger. The preferred alternative outcome of preschool for disadvantaged youth is that it teaches school acculturation behavior in ways that improve student academic and behavioral outcomes once at school. <p> This chapter represents an attempt to systematically study the effects of pre-kindergarten participation on student behavior. We utilize a unique longitudinal data set that links student birth records to pre-kindergarten participation for every child born in Florida in or after 1994 who subsequently attended public school in Florida. Because pre-kindergarten participation is endogenous, we employ a novel identification strategy to estimate the effects of pre-kindergarten participation by comparing siblings within the same family. Families' access to pre-kindergarten can change over time as schools add or drop programs. We demonstrate that, within a family, the sibling with less costly access to public pre-kindergarten—measured by the fact that his or her locally-zoned elementary school offers a pre-kindergarten program when he or she is four years old—is considerably more likely to attend than the equally-eligible sibling who would have attended pre-kindergarten at a school other than his or her zoned elementary school, and use this differential access within a family as an instrument to predict public pre-kindergarten attendance. Using these differences in access within a family, we find that public pre-kindergarten participation apparently reduces behavioral problems in elementary school, especially when the child grows up in a particularly disadvantaged neighborhood. <p> <p> <b>1.2 Background</b> <p> Research suggesting the possibly negative impact of preschool participation on children's subsequent elementary school behavior is embedded in the larger debate about the psychological consequences of children of any income level being separated from their parents in the first years of life. In the early 1980s educational psychologists began employing attachment theory (Bowlby 1973; Ainsworth et al. 1978) in their study of increasing numbers of infants and toddlers being placed in public or private child care as a result of mothers rapidly returning to the workforce. Attachment theory posited that for humans to become trusting and caring individuals they must, as infants, bond with their mothers in the first year of life. The theory predicted that disruption of this attachment process (primarily to a nurturant female) would result in a child who is unable to develop self control or form stable relationships. Jay Belsky was one of the first educational psychologists to claim to have found evidence confirming this prediction. Starting in the mid 1980s, Belsky issued a series of warnings (1986, 1988, 1990) that "early and extensive nonmaternal care carried risks in terms of increasing the probability of insecure infant-parent attachment relationships and promoting aggression and noncompliance during the toddler, preschool, and early primary school years" (Belsky 2002, 167). The research that Belsky cited was criticized on the grounds that it did not take into account the quality of the child care setting or the background characteristics of the children. <p> The decade of the 1990s saw a two-prong response to anxiety among both poor and nonpoor families that leaving their infants and toddlers in a group child care setting might promote adverse behavioral outcomes such as noncompliance and aggression. In the legislative arena, the National School Readiness Task Force issued a report in 1991 affirming that school readiness involved not only academic knowledge but also social competence. In 1994, Congress set school readiness to be first among the nation's eight education goals. By the year 2000, all children would have access to high-quality, developmentally appropriate preschool programs and would arrive at school able to "to maintain the mental alertness necessary" to learn (Public Law 103–227). <p> In the research arena, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) commissioned a multicenter study of early child care and youth development. Since 1993, the NICHD Early Child Care Research Network has produced over sixty publications, many of which reach conflicting conclusions about the relationship between early child care and socioemotional development. Since the early 1990s, a great deal of research has been conducted on short- and long-run effects of children's early preschool experiences. Given that early childhood education represents a nexus of psychological theory, employment exigency, and cultural transmission, it is not surprising that findings in this body of research using nationally representative samples are decidedly mixed: <p> The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (1998a) found no difference in problem behavior during the first three years among children reared exclusively at home and those who spent more than thirty hours per week in nonparental care. The NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (1998b) found that mothering was a stronger and more consistent predictor of child outcomes than child care. There was little evidence that early, extensive, and continuous care was related to problematic child behavior. Child care quality was the most consistent predictor of child functioning. The NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (2001) found that when quality and quantity of child care were controlled, the association between family factors and children's social-emotional development remained significant, thereby affirming that parents continue to have a meaningful effect on children's behavior despite considerable child care experience in the earliest years. The NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (2003) found that children spending longer hours or more months in center care each year exhibit elevated levels of aggression and less effective impulse control. The national evaluation of Early Head Start (Love et al. 2005) found that children randomly assigned to the program (compared to a control group that could access any community service except Early Head Start) showed fewer problem behaviors and lower levels of aggressive behavior at twenty-four and thirty-six months. No evidence was found that more time in child care was associated with higher rates of aggressive behavior. First year findings from the <i>Head Start Impact Study</i> (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2005) reported effect sizes of –0.13 for total behavior problems and –0.16 for hyperactivity as reported by parents whose children were randomly assigned to Head Start. Control groups could enroll in available community non-Head Start services. A study of subsidized child care in Quebec found evidence of negative effects on a wide spectrum of child behavioral outcomes: hyperactivity-inattention, general anxiety, separation anxiety, and physical aggressiveness/ opposition (Baker, Gruber, and Milligan 2005). Summarizing effect sizes, the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (2006) concluded that more child care hours predicted more behavior problems and conflict, according to care providers. Using Early Childhood Longitudinal Study data, Loeb et al. (2007) found that center-based care had a negative effect on sociobehavioral measures (with the exception of English proficient Hispanic children). Across the family income distribution, the younger the start age, the larger the negative effect. Intensity effects (more hours per day lead to more kindergarten teacher-report behavioral effects—measures of self control, interpersonal skills, and externalizing behavior) are moderated by family income and race. Also using Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Magnuson, Ruhm, and Waldfogel (2007) found that participation in pre-kindergarten was associated with higher levels of behavior problems noted in the spring of first grade. This adverse relationship was somewhat attenuated for public school-located pre-kindergarten, particularly for students who continued to kindergarten in the same public school where they attended pre-kindergarten. <p> <p> Parallel to the legislative and research activity at the national level, the decade of the 1990s saw states acting to extend pre-kindergarten into their K-20 educational framework. In Florida as in other states, this downward extension of public schooling to include three- and four-year-olds was partly to accommodate provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Public Law 99-457). Since disproportionate numbers of incoming low-income children were classified early in elementary school with special education exceptionalities such as speech and language impairment or emotional handicap, it was considered a worthwhile investment to provide these services in the context of a pre-kindergarten early intervention program (PKEI). <p> In funding the program, the Florida Legislature stipulated that priority be given to economically disadvantaged 3- and 4-year-old children whose family's income—up to 135 percent of the federal poverty level—made them free lunch eligible. Additional targets were children of migrant workers, children who had been abused, in foster care, prenatally exposed to drugs, and three-and four-year-olds not economically eligible who could participate with a fee adjusted for family income. Minimum operational parameters were set at six hours per day, five days per week during the school year with an option of extending services to ten hours per day year round. Public school PKEI teachers had to be certified in early childhood education; however, school districts could also choose to subcontract with community-based nonprofits such as Head Start or child care agencies to provide services to three- and four-year olds. Staff qualifications at nonpublic school providers were not as rigorous: a twelve-credit Child Development Associate credential (plus 120 hours of fieldwork) was acceptable to be a lead teacher. In either setting, the student-staff ratio was set at 10:1. <p> Throughout the 1990s, annual funding for PKEI hovered just under $100 million with enrollment averaging between 25,000 to 35,000 children per year. By the time our data collection period ended (2003), the program had been transferred out of the Department of Education to the quasi public-quasi private Partnership for School Readiness housed directly inside the Governor's Office. It has since been transferred to the Agency for Workforce Innovation, lending partial support to Zigler and Styfco's contention that the mission of many state-supported preschool programs is primarily to serve as day care for mothers on welfare who are required to enter the workforce. <p> So far we have been focusing on the potentially negative behavioral consequences of preschool participation. To look at the glass half-full, considerable evidence has been accumulated that "emotional development and academic learning are far more closely intertwined in the early years.... Across a range of studies, the emotional, social, and behavioral competence of young children (such as higher levels of self-control and lower levels of acting out) predict their academic performance in first grade, over and above their cognitive skills and family backgrounds" (Raver and Knitzer 2002, 3). The collocation of academic knowledge and self regulation in the brain is the basis for both conceptual and empirical support in favor of preschool education. To life span economists such as James Heckman, estimated rates of return to investment in preschool programs far exceed their opportunity costs. These returns to investment would be due in part because younger persons have a longer horizon over which to recoup the fruits of their investments. In Heckman's human capital model (2000), noncognitive skills and informal learning play important roles in lifetime earnings (see also Heckman 2006; Heckman and Rubinstein 2001; Heckman, Stixrud, and Urzua 2006). Most long-run studies that find support for investment in high quality early childhood programs (e.g., High/ Scope Perry Preschool, Carolina Abecedarian Project, Chicago Child-Parent Centers) do not make the economic case that disadvantaged program participants caught up to earning levels of more advantaged age peers but rather that society saved money through lower rates of antisocial, cost-positive behavior such as juvenile arrest, welfare dependency, and adult incarceration (Schweinhart et al. 2005; Reynolds et al. 2002). Indeed, Belfield et al. (2006) argue that the long-term effects on crime account for a very large share of the dollar-value benefits of the Perry Preschool treatment. On the other hand, Duncan et al. (2007), utilizing data from six longitudinal data sets in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, found very limited evidence that self-regulation skills at kindergarten had lasting import for long-term academic and behavioral success. <p> <i>(Continues...)</i> <p> <p> <!-- copyright notice --> <br></pre> <blockquote><hr noshade size='1'><font size='-2'> Excerpted from <b>The Problems of Disadvantaged Youth</b> Copyright © 2009 by National Bureau of Economic Research. Excerpted by permission of The University of Chicago Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.<br>Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.