Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Surprising Impact of the Kindergarten Experience on Adult Outcomes

According to a new study, students who learn more in kindergarten are more likely to experience positive adult outcomes. Raj Chetty, a Professor of Economics at Harvard University, investigates the relationship between one’s kindergarten experience and earnings in his paper, “How Does your Kindergarten Classroom Affect Your Earnings?” By incorporating information from United States Tax Data and Project STAR, an experiment conducted in Tennessee kindergarten classes in the 1980’s, Chetty examines how the amount students learn in Kindergarten impacts them in the long-term.

Project STAR indicates that small class sizes and quality teachers increase kindergarteners’ test scores. Though such advantages do not consistently manifest themselves through test scores in the post-kindergarten years, they may reemerge during adulthood. Chetty’s study determined that a one standard deviation increase in test scores equated to a 14.8% increase in adult earnings. David Leonhardt, in a New York Times article on the study, writes that, “All else equal, they (the study participants) were making about an extra $100 a year at age 27 for every percentile they had moved up the test-score distribution over the course of kindergarten.” Furthermore, the study found that children with high Kindergarten test scores were more likely to attend a “quality” college, to marry by age 28, and to have a 401k.

For more information on early childhood education.

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