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Idaho is one of 10 states that doesn't offer public preschool, although two of those states are currently experimenting with pilot programs.Idaho lawmakers have long wrestled over whether to provide a public education to preschool-aged children. Idaho's conservative majority has resisted.But now, the debate could be revived because a freshman Democratic lawmaker has begun working on a plan to implement public pre-k.

The Impact Of Preschool On Boise Students In Vista Neighborhood

P-16 preschool class Caldwell
Adam Cotterell
Boise State Public Radio

Idaho is one of five states that doesn’t fund preschool. Most other states require their school districts to provide pre-kindergarten, or pre-K. Now education officials are reviewing the results of a test study that measures the impact of preschool in one Boise neighborhood.

There’s mounting evidence that preschool is advantageous for children and Idaho researchers have stacked yet another document on that growing pile. The “Boise Pre-K Project” released its 2017 evaluation, with the results of a program that began two years ago in Boise’s Vista neighborhood. Researchers compared test results of students who attended pre-K against those who didn’t.

From the Idaho Policy Institute, lead researcher Vanessa Fry explains, "When they got into kindergarten, 86% of them were achieving at or above benchmarks for kindergarten students, when it came to the Idaho statewide test. Whereas compared to their peers, those peers were only achieving benchmark at a 53% level. So quite a significant difference there."

Fry tracked progress in other areas as well, such as improved social skills for children and even increases in household income.

"When children are in preschool," says Fry, "parents are more able to go to work and they have that time to engage in the labor force, compared to students that maybe don’t have an opportunity to have pre-K."

With the backing of city and school officials, the researchers intend to track the Vista neighborhood students for years to come. 

Copyright 2017 Boise State Public Radio

Find Tom Michael on Twitter @Tom2Michael

I'm the GM here, meaning I'm responsible for our management and leadership. My most recent focus is on digital transformation, long-term financial stability and a more inclusive workplace. When I want a break from the news, I enjoy running in the Boise foothills.

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