Social-Emotional Effects of Early Childhood Education Programs in Tulsa


  • This research was supported by grants from the Foundation for Child Development, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and the A.L. Mailman Family Foundation. We are grateful to the leaders and teachers of the Tulsa Public Schools and the Community Action Project of Tulsa County, without whom this research would not have been possible. We would also like to thank Carolyn Hill, Ronna Cook, Phil Fletcher, Camilla Heid, Katherine Magnuson, Rebecca Bulotsky-Shearer, Bill Jacoby, and Howard Bloom for helpful advice. Finally, we would like to thank Dan Cullinan, Amy Lowenstein, Catherine Shaw, Emily Holcombe, and Emily Page for their invaluable research assistance. The first two authors contributed equally to the writing of this article.

concerning this article should be addressed to William T. Gormley Jr., Georgetown Public Policy Institute, 3520 Prospect Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007. Electronic mail may be sent to


This article assesses the effects of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s early childhood education programs on social-emotional outcomes, examining teacher ratings of children’s behavior from the Adjustment Scales for Preschool Intervention and a measure of attentiveness using fixed effects regressions with propensity score matching. The sample includes 2,832 kindergarten students in 2006, of whom 1,318 participated in the Tulsa Public Schools (TPS) pre-K program and 363 participated in the CAP of Tulsa County Head Start program the previous year. Program participation was associated with lower timidity and higher attentiveness for TPS pre-K alumni and a marginally significant reduction in timidity for Head Start alumni. Results were similar for the free lunch-eligible subsample. We conclude that high-quality, school-based preschool programs can enhance social-emotional development.