Many people might think the main benefit of a high-quality preschool program is the academic boost it gives young children when they enter elementary school.

But the strongest positive effects may show up years, and even decades, later and have little to do with test scores and grades.

Researchers at Georgetown University have been studying the impact of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s program for two decades.

In a new set of working papers, the researchers found long-term positive outcomes for children who were enrolled in preschool in 2005: Compared to their peers, the children who attended preschool were more likely to take advanced courses and graduate high school on time, more likely to enroll in a higher education program and more likely to vote in elections after turning 18. Most of the new findings have not yet been officially published or peer reviewed.

While the working papers focused on children who are now in their early 20s, additional research from Georgetown is tracking a group of Tulsa children who finished third grade last school year. Researchers found that the third graders who had attended preschool had stronger self-regulation skills and performed better in math.

The Tulsa research is part of a larger body of work studying the trajectory of children’s lives after they attend different types of publicly-funded preschool programs. The research also shines a light on the impact preschool can have on students beyond high school.

Read the full article about studies on high-quality preschool programs by Ariel Gilreath at The Hechinger Report.