The Long-Term Effects of Universal Preschool in Boston

New Findings, School Reform, May 2021

We use admis­sions lot­ter­ies to esti­mate the effects of large-scale pub­lic preschool in Boston on col­lege-going, col­lege prepa­ra­tion, stan­dard­ized test scores, and behav­ioral out­comes. Preschool enroll­ment boosts col­lege atten­dance, as well as SAT test-tak­ing and high school grad­u­a­tion. Preschool also decreas­es sev­er­al dis­ci­pli­nary mea­sures includ­ing juve­nile incar­cer­a­tion, but has no detectable impact on state achieve­ment test scores. An analy­sis of sub­groups shows that effects on col­lege enroll­ment, SAT-tak­ing, and dis­ci­pli­nary out­comes are larg­er for boys than for girls. Our find­ings illus­trate pos­si­bil­i­ties for large-scale mod­ern, pub­lic preschool and high­light the impor­tance of mea­sur­ing long-term and non-test score out­comes in eval­u­at­ing the effec­tive­ness of edu­ca­tion programs