More children are entering kindergarten with preschool experience.
The gap between rich and poor families participating in preschools has shrunk over the past decade, according to a press release from the National Education Goals Panel, a bipartisan government panel.
The panel attributed the change to an increase in the number of quality child care centers available to parents at all income levels.
In 1991, it said, 73 percent of 3- to 5-year-olds from high income families attended preschool, compared to 45 percent from families earning $10,000 or less per year. By 1999, the participation rate for low-income families had increased to 57 percent, while the number from high-income families decreased slightly to 70 percent.
The announcement cited studies showing that quality preschool experiences are linked to long-term improvements in school performance.
"The evidence is mounting that quality early care and education really do help children enter school ready to learn," it quoted Edward Zigler, Sterling Professor of Psychology at Yale University, as saying.
"This is particularly true for children who live in poverty."
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