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Research shows link between pre-k and high school graduation

ReadyNation recently released a new brief, The Vital Link: Early Childhood Investment is the First Step to High School Graduation. Looking at recent research, this brief shows the crucial link between early childhood education and high school graduation. 

Studies since the 1960s have shown that high quality preschool can dramatically improve high school graduation rates and college attendance for participants relative to their peers. Researchers point to a number of contributing benefits from high quality early education, especially the critical factor it plays in helping children reach important benchmarks along the education continuum. Early childhood education prepares young children for kindergarten so they enter ready to learn; kids entering kindergarten ready to learn read better at third grade; and kids reading on grade level by third grade are significantly more likely to graduate high school.

Recent research highlighted in the brief show that children not ready for kindergarten can be half as likely to read well by third grade. Children not reading well by third grade are, in turn, four times more likely to drop out of high school. Third-grade reading level represents such a critical benchmark because it is when children make the leap from learning to read to reading to learn.

The challenges are increasingly difficult for at risk youth. Sixteen percent of children who are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade do not graduate on time. That number jumps to 26 percent for children who have been poor for at least one year and do not read proficiently, and jumps further to 35 percent for those children who are poor and living in poverty, not reading proficiently. 

Investing in early childhood is the foundation to addressing these challenges and helping kids achieve the important milestone of high school graduation.

Learn more about the connection between early childhood investment and high school graduation, including information from recent studies, by reading the brief. You can get the full brief here.

ReadyNation is the early childhood project of America’s Promise. It amplifies the voice of business leaders in support of early childhood policies and programs that strengthen our economy and workforce. It is a key component of the Grad Nation campaign, a large and growing movement of individuals, organizations, and communities working together with America’s Promise to end the dropout crisis.