Racial Disparities in Pre-K Quality: Evidence From New York City’s Universal Pre-K Program

July 28, 2021

New York City’s universal prekindergarten (pre-K) program, which increased full-day enrollment from 19,000 to almost 70,000 children, is ambitious in both scale and implementation speed. We provide new evidence on the distribution of pre-K quality in New York City by student race/ethnicity, and investigate the extent to which observed differences are associated with the spatial distribution of higher quality providers. Relative to other jurisdictions, we find the average quality of public pre-K providers is high. However, we identify large disparities in the average quality of providers experienced by Black and White students, which is partially explained by differential proximity to higher quality providers. Taken together, current racial disparities in the quality of pre-K providers may limit the program’s ability to reduce racial achievement gaps.