Early Childhood Education: An Analysis of Its Effects on Student Achievement in Central America

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This research aimed to explore the potential effects of early childhood education in Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama with a special emphasis on Honduras. My main research question was how effective is early childhood education for elementary school success in reading and math in five target countries in Central America? To answer it, I analyzed a dataset from UNESCO which applied standardized assessment exams to elementary school students in different subjects including math and reading. In addition, this dataset identified the associated factors that influence its results. I then used ordinary least squares regression analysis to understand what the impact of early childhood education was on students’ achievement, if any. Although there is a great amount of literature that vouches for the positive effects of early childhood education, the major findings of my study showed that for all the countries, when dividing the population by socioeconomic status, early childhood education had no effect on the poorer two thirds of the student population. In terms of policy, this implies that while the current efforts to make early childhood education universal may or may not be having positive effects in other areas, in terms of student achievement the effects are insignificant. This may be due to the fact that early childhood education programs are of such poor quality for lower social class students that they have no impact in terms of student achievement. Alternatively, it could also mean that early childhood education is of decent quality; however, primary education is so poor that the effects of preschool are wiped out in the first three years of elementary school. Regardless of the cause, if no efforts are directed towards improving the quality of early childhood educational centers, we will continue to see similar results.


Type of resource text
Date created 2019 - 2020


Author Cardona, Barbara
Advisor Carnoy, Martin
Degree granting institution Stanford University


Subject Early Childhood Education
Subject Student Achievement
Subject Math
Subject Reading
Subject Central America
Subject Honduras
Subject Regression Analysis
Genre Thesis

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Cardona, Barbara. (2020). Early Childhood Education: An Analysis of Its Effects on Student Achievement in Central America. Unpublished Honors Thesis. Stanford University, Stanford CA.


Stanford University, Program in Science, Technology and Society, Honors Theses

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