High Quality School Readiness Evaluation (School/RDY)

Project Details

Researchers at Utah State University, Center for Persons with Disabilities are working with the Utah Governor Office of Management and Budget to evaluate the results of the first-ever social impact bond designed to finance early childhood. The High Quality School Readiness Evaluation has two parts: the evaluation of a social impact bond that funds preschool for at-risk children, also known as pay for success, and the evaluation of child performance and preschool quality for newly implemented preschool programs that are focused on providing services to at-risk children.

In August 2013, the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group (UIG), together with the United Way of Salt Lake and J.B. Pritzker, formed a partnership and jointly committed $7 million to create the Utah High Quality Preschool Program, a high-impact and targeted curriculum focused on increasing school readiness and academic performance among at-risk 3- and 4-year-olds in Utah. In 2014, the Utah State Legislature passed HB96, the Utah School Readiness Initiative. Private investors can now partner with the state to invest in preschool programs that demonstrate lasting results and save taxpayer dollars. This Act included funding to improve preschool quality throughout the state.

At-risk children who enter kindergarten better prepared will perform better in school and for those most at-risk can potentially avoid special education and remedial services in kindergarten through 12th grade, which results in cost savings for school districts, the State of Utah and other government entities.

The Utah School Readiness Pay for Success Initiative currently enrolls 1,000 Utah children across six programs, including two school districts, one charter school and three private schools.

The High Quality School Readiness program is grant funded to preschool providers in Utah. For 2018, this program includes three school districts and five private schools. This project conducts pre- and post-testing when the students come into preschool and when they exit, and then uses school records to evaluate student placement through sixth grade. A different part of the project provides support for programs to improve their preschool quality.