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Evidence that Universal Pre-K (UPK) is not early enough?


New York City now has Universal Pre-K education (UPK), an innovative and perhaps important intervention in the lives of children that could lead to better performance in school. An interesting April 4th piece in the New York Times, suggests that UPK isn't an early enough intervention. "...we should concentrate our energies on helping the most vulnerable parents and children beginning at, or before, birth. Programs for 4-year-olds and even 3-year-olds, as Mr. Whitehurst [Russ Whitehurst, formerly at the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) at the U.S. Department of Education, and now with the Brookings Institution] put it, “come too late.”

Russ Whitehurst is perhaps best known in our field as leading the U.S. Department of Education's efforts to promote "evidence-based" practices. The idea that one of the country's major urban literacy interventions isn't early enough, promulgated by Russ Whitehurst, makes me wonder what the evidence is to support this argument. Have there been studies, for example silver or gold standard experimental design research that show us that Whitehurst is correct? I hope there are. If you know of some, Daryl, or other researchers in this CoP, could you tell us about them? Thanks.

David J. Rosen