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Citation:Gilliam, W. S., & Zigler, E. F. (2000). A critical meta-analysis of all evaluations of state-funded preschool from 1977 to 1998: Implications for policy, service delivery, and program implementation. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 15(4), 441-473.

This meta-analytic review examined 13 state-funded preschool programs that included a formal evaluation of the programsÕ impact on child outcomes. The authors limited their focus to programs that served children ages 3 to 5, provided classroom-based educational service, and were primarily funded and administered at the state level. Although the review did not specifically focus on family involvement or support components, some of the programs included family components, notably on-site family caseworkers and home visits. Of the 13 programs reviewed, none used random assignment of children to treatment and control groups; three programs did not use a comparison group at all and were dealt with separately in the review. No program included in the review was directly addressed in studies reviewed for this synthesis. In spite of the methodological flaws in the studies they reviewed, the authors noted that their findings suggested modest positive impacts in improving childrenÕs developmental competence, improving later school attendance and performance, and reducing subsequent grade retention. Significant effects were limited primarily to kindergarten and first grade, although some were sustained several years beyond preschool. The authors also noted that their results were similar to findings from evaluations of other large-scale preschool programs for low-income children, notably Head Start.

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