NC Pre-K Earns High Marks for Its First 15 Years

August 2017

North Carolina's pre-kindergarten program has supported over 350,000 children in multiple areas of learning and development, according to a new summary report from the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The report says favorable outcomes from the program can last for years after children enter elementary school.

"The NC Pre-K Program has enhanced children's language development, communication skills, cognitive development, and social and emotional development," said FPG senior research scientist Ellen Peisner-Feinberg, who has led annual evaluations of the program since its inception as "More at Four" in 2001. "Not only does the program benefit children while they attend it, but its positive effects persist."

NC Pre-K is a statewide educational program for eligible 4-year-olds, primarily children whose family income does not exceed 75% of the state median. The program was designed to prepare children for kindergarten by enhancing their school readiness skills.

"Our studies have shown that children who participated in NC Pre-K have made greater than expected gains in language, literacy, math, general knowledge, and social skills through Pre-k and into kindergarten," said Peisner-Feinberg.

FPG's most recent evaluation compared children who did not attend NC Pre-K to those who did. At the end of kindergarten, the children who attended the program had significantly better math skills, as well as significantly better executive function skills, a group of abilities related to self-regulation that predict children's later academic performance.