Positive impacts of the Colorado Preschool Program are clear

Written by: Stephanie Perez-Carrillo
Date Posted: February 8, 2019

Each year, the Colorado Department of Education reports longitudinal data on the impact of the Colorado Preschool Program (CPP) to the state legislature. This year’s release of longitudinal data confirms, once again, that access to early learning improves outcomes for kids. The data show students who participated in CPP had fewer significant reading deficiencies, fewer incidents of being held back in school, and higher graduation rates. This is the first time in the 30-year history of the program that the analysis has been able to include comparisons through high school graduation between those who had access to CPP and matched peers with similar risk factors who did not.

Students who participated in CPP-funded programs were significantly less likely to be identified with a significant reading deficiency in kindergarten when compared to students who did not participate in CPP. When compared to similar groups of children with the same risk factors who did not attend publicly funded preschool, CPP was associated with a reduced need for retention by about half in K-3. It also found that children who participated in half- or full-day CPP in the 2003-04 school year were more likely to graduate with a high school diploma within four years when compared to children who did not participate in CPP.

The program has served more than 378,000 students is nearly every school district across Colorado. It has resulted in significant gains for students in the areas of literacy, cognition, mathematics and physical and social emotional health—to name a few. Nearly two thirds of current participants are black or Latino, with a fairly even split among boys and girls. Participants are served in a diversity of settings, including public schools, Head Start and other community-based programs.

The data release comes at a critical juncture as the legislature and Gov. Jared Polis consider proposals that could fully fund full-day kindergarten and expand preschool access. Of the $111 million dollars invested in CPP last year, 18.3 percent was used for full-day kindergarten under the ECARE kindergarten program. The expansion of kindergarten would ensure existing ECARE slots remain available to preschool children. Currently, only 24 percent of 4-year-olds in Colorado access our state-funded pre-K program and there are several thousand children on our state pre-K wait list and thousands more who are eligible but not enrolled.

We look forward to partnering with a diverse coalition to build on the success highlighted in this report and expand access to quality early childhood education to more children this session. To access more information or to read the full report click here.

Stephanie Perez-Carrillo

About Stephanie Perez-Carrillo

Stephanie works as a Policy Analyst for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. Prior to joining the Children’s Campaign, she worked as a Public Policy Fellow at The Women’s Foundation of Colorado – where she found her love and passion for policy work. Before diving into the policy world, Stephanie served as a Teach for America Corps Member in South Carolina, teaching high school and middle school math. Early on while obtaining her degree in Marketing from Florida International University, she worked in health care as a Patient Advocate and Unit Secretary. When she is not working, you can typically find her at a coffee shop, hanging out with friends, or engaging in some type of outdoor activity.