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Could pre-K attendance reduce the need for special education?

Experts have argued for many years about the importance of early childhood education. Some insist that solid early education can impact children for years to come, while others insist that early education efforts only impact children for a short period of time. Regardless of whether this broad issue will be disputed well into the future, a new study indicates that early education may have one specific and significant benefit that has been relatively unknown until now.

Researchers at prestigious Duke University have spent a considerable amount of time analyzing 13 years of data related to students enrolled in the More at Four program. Much like certain California programs, More at Four helps young students in North Carolina obtain access to early education programs. The Duke study indicates that children enrolled in More at Four are 32 percent less likely to need access to special education programs by the third grade than students who were not enrolled in this early education program.

Certainly, some students need access to special education programming due to mental or physical disabilities and challenges that simply will not be dramatically affected by access to early education programs. However, it is worth examining whether access to strong early education programs may aid young California students in avoiding the need for special education programming for relatively minor disabilities and learning challenges.

If you have questions about whether your young child could potentially benefit from access to pre-K programming, please do not hesitate to consult your pediatrician and, when appropriate, an attorney experienced in education law.

Source: NPR, “Pre-K Pays Off By Lowering Special Ed Placements,” William Huntsberry, Feb. 4, 2015

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