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Study Finds Expansion of Pre-K Options in Chicago Led to Jump in Black Student Enrollment

Start Early director of research and policy initiatives Maia Connors discusses research on pre-K access in Chicago.

October 21, 2020
  • Start Early News
  • Equity
  • Policy and Systems
  • Research
  • Press Coverage

Maia Connors, director of research and policy initiatives at Start Early recently spoke to WTTW about findings from “Closer to Home,” a report by education researchers at Start Early, NORC at the University of Chicago and the UChicago Consortium on School Research.

Overall, the report found policy changes launched in 2013 enabled greater equity in both access to and enrollment in Chicago Public Schools’ full-day, school-based pre-K.

“After these policy changes, these full-day opportunities were expanded greatly and Black students and students living in the lowest-income neighborhoods were the most likely to enroll in full-day pre-K,” Maia Connors, director of research and policy initiatives at Start Early, told WTTW News. “So I think that’s really a drastic change that shows that Chicago really was able to achieve greater equity.”

Connors also spoke to how this additional access to pre-K education can have a lasting impact on students’ lives.

“Prior research really shows that enrolling in high-quality pre-K is really critical for young children’s learning and that children really benefit a lot,” she said. “It can set them on a trajectory to greater academic achievement (and) longer-term positive outcomes as adults.”

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