Pre-K students and a teacher seated in a classroom
Category: Discovery & Impact, Research, University News

Title: Event — Early Learning, Long-Term Benefits: Lessons from 20 Years of Research on Tulsa’s Pre-K Program

On Tuesday, September 20, 2022, the McCourt School of Public Policy’s Center for Research on Children in the United States (CROCUS) will host a day-long hybrid conference in Lohrfink Auditorium at Georgetown University on the impact of high-quality early childhood education on early and adult life, featuring a keynote conversation with Governor Jared Polis (D-CO), a longtime advocate of early childhood care and education, and Distinguished University Professor and Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne.

About the Conference

At the conference, CROCUS experts will reveal lessons learned from their path-breaking research study on government-funded pre-K in Oklahoma, one of the poorest states in America. For more than two decades, Dr. Bill Gormley and Dr. Deborah Phillips, co-directors of CROCUS, and a multidisciplinary team of researchers have been studying the effects of Oklahoma’s universal pre-K (UPK) program, focusing on the city of Tulsa, which has the largest school district in the state of Oklahoma. The researchers’ primary interest has been the short- and long-term effects of Tulsa Public Schools’ (TPS) pre-K program, which is available on a voluntary basis, free of charge, to all four-year-olds in the state.

Sixteen years after they began studying a single cohort of Tulsa pre-K students, the CROCUS team is ready to unveil their latest set of key findings on the effects of TPS’ early childhood education programs. Georgetown University researchers will uncover a wide range of outcomes, focusing on disadvantaged students in particular, from high school graduation and college enrollment to participation in civic life.

Attendees will hear from leading experts about the effects of pre-K that persist through adulthood and if the long-term benefits of UPK exceed the short-term costs, how and why Oklahoma became a leader in early childhood education, and the public policy implications that could determine whether similar programs could be successfully implemented across America. 

Conference Agenda

(The conference will take place in the Hariri Building’s Lohrfink Auditorium. The following details are listed in the Eastern Time Zone.)

8:30 AM — Welcome Remarks

  • Maria Cancian, Dean, McCourt School of Public Policy
  • William Gormley, University Professor, McCourt School of Public Policy, and Co-Director, Center for Research on Children in the U.S.
  • Deborah Phillips, Professor, Department of Psychology, and Co-Director, Center for Research on Children in the U.S.

9:00 AM — Panel Discussion 1: The short-terms gains that set pre-K students apart

Experts will discuss whether children who attend school-based pre-K or Head Start are better off in the short term and if the early childhood education instruction in Tulsa has been successful in laying the groundwork for more refined and complex skills later on.

  • Anne Partika, Ph.D. Candidate, Psychology Department, Georgetown University (Moderator)
  • Ted Gayer, President, Niskanen Center
  • Shirley Adelstein, Senior Social Science Research Analyst, Office of Planning, Research, & Evaluation (OPRE), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
  • Anna Johnson, Associate Professor of Psychology, Georgetown University
  • Deborah Phillips, Professor of Psychology, Georgetown University

10:00 AMPanel Discussion 2: Persistence and fadeout after a preschool boost

Experts will discuss which skills acquired during preschool persist through elementary school.

  • Brittany McGill, Senior Social Science Analyst, ASPE, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (Moderator)
  • Carolyn Hill, Senior Fellow, MDRC
  • Anna Johnson, Associate Professor of Psychology, Georgetown University
  • Sara Amadon, Senior Research Scientist, Child Trends
  • Danielle Neves, Instructional Leadership Director, Tulsa Public Schools

11:00 AM — Panel Discussion 3: Do the effects of pre-K persist through early adulthood?

Experts will discuss whether students who attended pre-K are more likely to be successful and responsible into early adulthood and if the long-term benefits of universal pre-K exceed the short-term costs.

  • Beth Meloy, President, Meloy Child & Family Policy Solutions (Moderator)
  • Sara Amadon, Senior Research Scientist, Child Trends
  • Karin Kitchens, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Virginia Tech University
  • Bill Gormley, Professor of Public Policy, Georgetown University
  • Tim Bartik, Senior Economist, Upjohn Institute

12:00 PMLunch in Copley Formal Lounge

 

1:00 PMKeynote Conversation with Colorado Governor Jared Polis 

Gov. Polis, in conversation with Distinguished University Professor and Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, will discuss the impact of public support for universal pre-K in Colorado and his vision for the future of Colorado’s newly-enacted, voter-approved and state-funded preschool program, from the consolidation of early childhood programs under a new Department of Early Childhood to the cost savings to parents across the state.

1:45 PMPanel Discussion 4: How and why one of the poorest states in America became a leader in early childhood education and what lies ahead

Experts will discuss how educators, elected officials and advocates built a movement in support of high-quality early childhood education and how the state of Oklahoma continues to improve universal pre-K program delivery.

  • Sherri Castle, Assistant Director for Research, Early Childhood Education Institute, University of Oklahoma-Tulsa (Moderator)
  • Ginnie Graham, Editorial Pages Editor, Tulsa World
  • Karen Kiely, Executive Director, CAP of Tulsa County Head Start Program
  • Delia Kimbrell, Senior Director of Research and Policy, Impact Tulsa
  • Lauren Jenks-Jones, Executive Director of Early Childhood Education, Oklahoma Department of Education

2:45 PMPanel Discussion 5: Environments that sustain early childhood successes

Experts will discuss the variables at play in maintaining the benefits of early childhood education — from elementary school curriculum to the quality of middle schools and high schools. 

  • Doug Hummel-Price, CROCUS Fellow, Georgetown University (Moderator
  • Amy Claessens, Associate Professor of Education, UW-Madison
  • Karin Kitchens, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Virginia Tech University
  • NaLette Brodnax, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Georgetown University
  • Cindy Decker, Executive Director, Tulsa Educare

3:45 PMPanel Discussion 6: Key lessons for policymakers

Experts will discuss whether Oklahoma’s universal pre-K program could be replicated elsewhere in the U.S. and the government interventions necessary to ensure successful implementation of early childhood education programs.

  • Erica Greenberg, Principal Research Associate, Center on Education Data and Public Policy, The Urban Institute (Moderator)
  • Katherine Magnuson, Professor of Social Work, UW-Madison
  • Steven Dow, Early Childhood Advisor to Mayor of Houston Sylvester Turner
  • Daphna Bassok, Associate Professor of Education & Public Policy, University of Virginia

4:35 PMClosing Remarks

  • William Gormley, University Professor, McCourt School of Public Policy, and Co-Director, Center for Research on Children in the U.S.
  • Deborah Phillips, Professor, Department of Psychology, and Co-Director, Center for Research on Children in the U.S.

5:00-6:00 PMReception in Copley Formal Lounge

 

Transportation

Georgetown University is accessible for faculty, staff, students and visitors through many convenient transportation options, including our free university shuttle, public transportation, bicycling, carsharing and other means. Learn more about transportation options here.

See here for directions to the Hariri Building’s Lohrfink Auditorium at Georgetown University and here for a campus map.