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Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) can successfully prepare children to enter kindergarten with confidence, a readiness to learn, and the ability to positively engage with their peers. In 2015, the City of Boise partnered with the Boise School District to launch free Pre-K at two elementary schools in Boise’s Vista neighborhood. The two cohorts that have matriculated through the Boise Pre-K Project show early indication of positive impacts on students’ cognitive and social skills.

There has been much debate over the years regarding the investment of public funds in Pre-K. Many scholars, educators, and policy-makers have hailed Pre-K as a significant contributing factor in both preparing children for kindergarten and developing early cognitive skills. Evidence shows Pre-K education has been found to benefit individual students as well as their families and communities. The number of children in the United States (US) enrolled in public Pre-K education tripled from 1990 to 2005 and data reveals that in 2014, 4.7 million three- and four-year old children attended preschool. It is expected that roughly 60 percent of three through five-year-old children will attend public Pre-K programs or private preschools in 2017. Not surprisingly, more and more US states are adopting Pre-K programs and state spending on Pre-K programs continues to increase. In states without universal Pre-K, school districts and municipalities have attempted to implement their own programs.


The report was prepared by the Idaho Policy Institute at Boise State University.