It’s encouraging to see the Seattle Preschool Program, just three years into implementation, performing at the level of well-regarded programs that have existed for a longer period.
Three years into the pilot of Seattle’s subsidized preschool program, program quality is steadily improving and participating children are showing strong gains in learning and development according to recently released study co-led by University of Washington researchers.
The study, conducted by researchers with Cultivate Learning at the University of Washington College of Education and the National Institute for Early Education Research, found that children enrolled in the Seattle Preschool Program made gains in every domain measured. And, the gains in language, literacy and mathematics were larger than would be expected based on maturation (increased age) alone.
Gail Joseph, Bezos Family Foundation Distinguished Professor in Early Learning and director of Cultivate Learning, noted that there were positive associations between teachers of color and children’s vocabulary and literacy gains, and that evaluators rated the quality of instruction and classroom organization significantly higher than in previous years.
“It’s encouraging to see the Seattle Preschool Program, just three years into implementation, performing at the level of well-regarded programs that have existed for a longer period,” Joseph said. “The results suggest we can improve children’s school readiness when we provide caring and nurturing preschool classrooms.”
Joseph noted the robust evaluation results can be very useful to the Seattle Preschool Program leadership to make equity-based decisions about quality improvement effort related to the environment and instructional strategies.
The Seattle Preschool Program subsidizes preschool tuition on a sliding scale, and is open to all 4-year-olds in the city. Nearly 80 percent of the enrolled children come from families who qualified for free tuition.
Seattle voters approved a $58 million property-tax levy in 2014 to pay for a four-year trial of the city-subsidized program. Currently, approximately 1,200 children are enrolled in the program.
Co-authors of the report with Cultivate Learning were Joseph, Lea Bachman, project lead and research associate, and Janet Soderberg, senior research scientist.
Gail Joseph, Bezos Family Foundation Distinguished Professor in Early Learning
Dustin Wunderlich, Director for Marketing and Communications