Type of Work: Significantly Discounted Client: Dallas Independent School District Public Schools
The Boston Consulting Group’s involvement with the Dallas Independent School District began in 2013, when BCG’s Dallas office was asked to develop an early childhood education strategy. Since then, BCG has partnered with DISD directly and the firm is now in the middle of a multi-year partnership to support the implementation of its strategy to improve early childhood education.
The importance of early childhood education is well documented. Studies show that children not reading at grade level by third grade are four times more likely not to have a high school degree by age 19.
Meanwhile, studies of high-quality early education show that low-income students who complete such programs are more likely to graduate high school and have greater lifetime earnings than their peers who do not.
As a result, there is increasing consensus on the need to develop and invest in early childhood programs. What’s less known, however, is how to do this effectively. In 2012, this issue was top of mind for a consortium of stakeholders in Dallas, including DISD community organizations, and local businesses and foundations. They formed a group called Commit! Partnership, an organization focused on improving educational outcomes for students “from cradle to career.”
BCG’s involvement began in 2013, when Commit! approached the firm’s Dallas office to develop an early childhood education strategy for the group’s birth-to-third-grade team, says J. Puckett, Global Leader of BCG’s Education practice and a Dallas-based Senior Partner.
In 2014, BCG helped develop the district’s early childhood strategy with the goal of maximizing the number of kindergarten-ready children through four fundamental levers: increasing pre-K access for 3- and 4-year-olds, boosting parental interest in pre-K, improving pre-K quality, and extending the continuum of care via support agencies that increase parental education, he says.
“There were a lot of young children, ages 3 and 4 that were not in any formal schooling program at all,” Puckett says. “We know if you get an early start with the kids in schooling, you’re not spending all of your time, effort and money on remediation. Getting people off on the right trajectory from the start is such a big key to success.”
The early results have been promising, he says, with substantial impact on both access rates and quality. Student enrollment in pre-K rose more than 10 percent in just two years, while DISD students deemed kindergarten-ready jumped from 38 percent to 51 percent.
“Someone who shows up kindergarten ready is three times more likely to be reading on grade level by the third grade,” Puckett says. “So, we’re hoping that these Pre-K kids we’re focusing on now will drive those numbers up by the time they hit third grade.”
Puckett says it’s been fantastic from his perspective to see the results first hand. “I lead our Global Education Practice but whenever I get to watch this type of impact we’re having in our own hometown, it’s special,” he says. “It really excites me.”