Public preschool can help children thrive and can promote equitable outcomes when families have access to it. District of Columbia Public Prekindergarten has enrolled the highest share of 3- and 4-year-old children in America for more than a decade in its full-day, school-year program. Using data from DC Prekindergarten applications from 2015 to 2020, we examined whether the probability of being matched to a ranked school differed across applications submitted in Spanish and English.
Our findings suggest that DC Prekindergarten is generally accessible, even after accounting for language of application, with differences in probability of assignment instead based on grade of application. We find that families who applied to PK3 (prekindergarten for 3-year-olds) in Spanish were slightly less likely to be matched to a school, while families who applied to PK4 in Spanish were substantially more likely to be matched than families who applied in English. We also find applications completed in Spanish ranked fewer schools and ranked both more popular and more dual language programs than those completed in English. This study documents the need for continued examination of school offerings, families’ needs, language supports, and the application process to ensure access to DC Prekindergarten.