State pre-K program “getting results”?

The PA Department of Education issued a statement, patting themselves on the back, claiming that the “Pre-K Counts” program was working as intended. They cite an increase in “age appropriate” skills and behaviors (under the categories social/emotional skills, early language and literacy, and of behaviors to meet needs) among participants.

You may remember that we were critics of the program when it was proposed. Assuming those measure are meaningful and reliable, are we going to eat crow? Not so fast:

The advocates of Pre-K Counts and universal preschool don’t claim that it merely improves readiness for kindergarten, but that it will improve high school graduation rates, reduce special education costs, reduce teen pregnancy, result in higher employment, reduce welfare dependancy, reduce crime rates, and so forth.

Evidence of this: none yet

Meanwhile, we stated that preschool programs produced modest academic gains in the first few years – but these gains faded over time.

Evidence of this: right so far

It should also be noted that government-run preschool crowds out private providers, at a high cost to taxpayers.