Impacts of Early Childhood Education on Medium- and Long-Term Educational Outcomes

Published online in:
Educational Researcher
November 16, 2017

Dana Charles McCoy, Harvard University
Hirokazu Yoshikawa, New York University
Kathleen M. Ziol-Guest, New York University
Greg J. Duncan, University of California, Irvine
Holly S. Schindler, University of Washington, Seattle
Katherine Magnuson, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Rui Yang, New York University
Andrew Koepp, Harvard University
Jack P. Shonkoff, Harvard University


Despite calls to expand early childhood education (ECE) in the United States, questions remain regarding its medium- and long-term impacts on educational outcomes. We use meta-analysis of 22 high-quality experimental and quasi-experimental studies conducted between 1960 and 2016 to find that, on average, participation in ECE leads to statistically significant reductions in special education placement (d = 0.33 SD, 8.1 percentage points) and grade retention (d = 0.26 SD, 8.3 percentage points), and increases in high school graduation rates (d = 0.24 SD, 11.4 percentage points). These results support ECE’s utility for reducing education-related expenditures and promoting child well-being.

Read the news release, "Comprehensive Research Review Finds Lasting Effects of Quality Early Childhood Education through High School," here.