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DENVER – Third-graders who participated in the Denver Preschool Program (DPP) four years earlier outperformed their non-DPP peers in Denver Public Schools (DPS) on the 2013 reading TCAP, the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program, the first long-term study of DPP students reveals. These gains occurred despite a demographic profile that puts DPP children at a slightly greater risk of academic failure than their non-DPP counterparts.
Children who can’t read by the end of third grade are four to six times more likely to drop out of school.
“High-quality preschool can help close the early achievement gap and ensure that more kids are graduating from high school on time.” says Jennifer Landrum, President and CEO of DPP, a sales tax-funded initiative that extends preschool tuition support to all Denver 4-year-olds. “Children who have learned to read by third grade are ready to read to learn in the years that follow.”
A total of 64 percent of DPP children posted advanced or proficient reading scores compared to 58 percent of non-DPP students. Just as significant, students who participated in DPP were less likely to receive unsatisfactory TCAP reading scores than their non-DPP peers; 13 percent of DPP enrollees earned unsatisfactory scores compared to 19 percent of non-DPP third-graders.
Since the 2009-2010 school year, annual evaluations of DPP graduates have revealed that the vast majority – over 90 percent on multiple measures – are leaving preschool ready for kindergarten both academically and social-emotionally.
“This is the first large group of DPP children to reach third grade and the first analysis to confirm school-readiness of DPP children persists through their early elementary years,” said Landrum.
Just over 3,000 DPS third-graders previously enrolled in DPP accounted for 47 percent of DPS third-graders tested on the English and Spanish versions of TCAP reading this past spring. A slightly larger proportion (74 percent) of third-graders who participated in DPP were eligible for Free or Reduced-Price Lunch (FRPL) than those who did not (69 percent). Additionally, a larger proportion of DPP students (47 percent) identified as English Language Learners (ELLs) than non-DPP students (41 percent).