Early-Childhood-Education Efforts in Dallas Pay Off

Many experts agree on the importance of early-childhood education and its emotional, social, and physical benefits. There has been less consensus, however, on the best path toward improving such programs to ensure that they meet the academic, emotional, and health needs of children—especially those in high-needs areas. BCG’s partnership with the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) has led to a transformation in the city’s strategy for educating its youngest residents—and has delivered extraordinary results.

BCG's early-childhood-education journey in Dallas began when Commit!—a collective impact organization formed by DISD, community partners, and local businesses and foundations—came to us in 2013 to develop an effective early-childhood-education strategy. The goal has been to maximize the number of kindergarten-ready children through four fundamental levers:

  • Increasing pre-K access for three- and four-year-olds
  • Boosting parent demand for pre-K
  • Improving pre-K quality
  • Extending the continuum of care via community resources in order to support children from birth

The early results have been promising, with exciting impact on both access and quality. Student enrollment in pre-K has increased from approximately 9,500 children in the 2012-2013 school year to more than 11,000 in 2016-2017. And district students deemed kindergarten-ready went from 38% in 2013 to 51% in 2015. Such gains bode well for the future, as kindergarten-ready children are three times more literate by third grade than those who are not prepared for the start of school, according to DISD research.

BCG is now in the middle of a new multiyear partnership with DISD to support the ongoing implementation of our strategy. Our teams are providing analysis and strategic advising to district leadership and helping it build its program management capacity to carry the work forward. A particular focus is on family engagement, where we hope to make Dallas a national exemplar for how to best involve families in early childhood education.

Consulting magazine recently selected our work in Dallas as a winner in its third annual Social & Community Investment Awards. The award goes to a project that has demonstrated impact and a commitment to excellence in social and community investment.