LANSING, Mich. - Two recent reports on preschool come to somewhat conflicting conclusions, according to media reports. A Michigan report says that preschool education saves the state about $1.15 billion annually due to children's social and academic gains, while the federal government says that its Head Start program does not lead to long-term academic gains.

A study by Minnesota-based Wilder Research, commissioned by the Michigan Early Childhood Investment Corp., concluded that Michigan children who attend preschool save taxpayer dollars because they are less likely to repeat grades, require extra academic help or enter the juvenile justice system as they get older, The Detroit News reported.

The study was based on a review of 60 other preschool education studies, The News reported. State School Superintendent Michael Flanagan said the findings show that Michigan should spend more on preschool, possibly by diverting funds from employee benefits or by making high school classes larger, The News reported.

In comparison, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a study showing that children who attended Head Start performed better academically than those who did not attend, but that the performance gap disappeared by the end of first grade, according to Education Week.

The Detroit News, "Study: Preschool saves cash," Jan. 26, 2010

Education Week, "Head Start Pupils' Gains Found to Fade," Jan. 19, 2010 (Subscription required)

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Kids in Head Start Still End Up Behind," Jan. 18, 2010