Do Black and Hispanic Children Benefit More From Preschool? Understanding Differences in Preschool Effects Across Racial Groups


  • This research was supported by a grant from the American Educational Research Association that receives funds for its “AERA Grants Program” from the National Science Foundation and the National Center for Education Statistics of the Institute of Education Sciences (U.S. Department of Education) under NSF Grant DRL-0634035. Additional support was provided by the Stanford Graduate Fellowship. Opinions reflect those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the granting agencies. I thank Susanna Loeb, Sean Reardon, Margaret Bridges, Bruce Fuller, Eric Hanushek, Joseph P. Robinson, and Deborah Stipek for invaluable suggestions.

concerning this article should be addressed to Daphna Bassok, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia, 405 Emmet Street South, Charlottesville, VA 22904. Electronic mail may be sent to


Recent studies suggest that the effects of attending preschool vary by race. These findings are difficult to interpret because the likelihood of enrolling a child in preschool also differs across groups. This study used newly released, nationally representative data to examine whether the impact of preschool participation at age 4 varies across racial groups after accounting for selection differences (N = 7,400). Among a subsample of children living below a poverty threshold, no racial differences in preschool impact are detected. However, findings suggest that nonpoor Black children benefit substantially more from preschool than their nonpoor White or Hispanic peers. Implications of these findings are discussed toward understanding the potential of large-scale preschool interventions for narrowing racial achievement gaps.