|Photo: Sarah D. Sparks|
The latest results of the Program for International Student Assessment give tantalizing hints of the connections between students' early-childhood education and their later math scores.
A new international test may provide more insights into what those connections mean for policy, but experts warn that it remains hard to tell what the United States can learn from other countries' approaches to preschool.
|Photo: Marianne N. Bloch|
"The Finnish example [of high PISA scores and high preschool enrollment in Finland] has been used to say, OK, there's an argument to be made to do early literacy and math in preschool," said Marianne Bloch, an education professor emerita at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who studies early-childhood education around the world, "but then the Finnish people say, we don't encourage our kids to start [primary] school until age 7, and they think play is learning. So it's difficult to do these comparisons in a reliable and meaningful way."
The 2015 international-benchmarking test—as in previous PISA iterations—showed stronger math results for students who had participated in at least a few years of education between ages 3 and 5, before the start of formal primary school. In most countries, students who had attended two to three years of preschool performed 50 scale points better in math as 15-year-olds on the 2015 PISA than those who had attended less than a year. The effect was stronger in countries with multiyear preschool systems and smaller average teacher-student ratios in the earliest grades.
Source: Education Week