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Pre-K for All in New York City

About "Pre-K for All"

An established and growing body of evidence points to early childhood education as key for preventing school failure and lasting achievement gaps. But scaling up high-quality programs has proved challenging. In 2014, the NYC Department of Education undertook a dramatic expansion of full-day universal pre-kindergarten, known as Pre-K for All (PKA). More than 68,000 children were enrolled in PKA programs across the City in the 2015-2016 school year. This initiative, based in the nation’s largest school district, is providing a unique opportunity to learn about both the benefits and challenges of making early childhood education widely available.

About Our Study

The Research Alliance is collaborating with NYU Steinhardt’s Institute for Human Development and Social Change to study and provide feedback on PKA's implementation in NYC. This project is developing a research architecture that will allow City leaders to “take the pulse” of PKA as it is rolled out. The research team is training classroom teachers to conduct tablet-based school readiness assessments with PKA students (in both Spanish and English). This information will then be linked with the NYC DOE’s developing system of PKA classroom- and site-level data, allowing us to tackle a number of key questions:

  • How feasible is the use of tablets to administer the assessments?
  • How academically “at risk” are children when they enter PKA programs? Do classrooms and sites vary in the extent to which they serve children with the greatest needs?
  • What gains do children make during their PKA school year? Are these gains similar to those seen in other large urban school systems?

This initiative is also setting the stage for future research. We are working with district leaders to develop additional studies that capitalize on the newly created research architecture. This work will allow us to assess students’ progress in their PKA classrooms and well beyond. 


Funded by the U.S. DOE’s Institute of Education Sciences and the Spencer Foundation.

Key Collaborators

Pamela A. Morris

Professor of Applied Psychology

Patricia Chou

Co-Data Manager