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ECD Program Evaluations in the U.S.

arrow-blue The High/Scope Perry Preschool Project

The High/Scope Perry Preschool Project, Ypsilanti, Michigan, followed children from the time of their participation in the pre-school project at ages 3 or 4 to age 27. All the participants were African-American children who lived in the same neighborhood in the 1960s. At the study's outset, the youngsters were randomly divided into a program group, who received a high-quality active learning preschool program, and a no-program control group. Researchers assessed the children in both groups annually from ages 3 to 11, at ages 14-15, at age 19 and at age 27 on variables representing certain characteristics, abilities, attitudes and types of performance.

The study findings at age 27 indicate that program participants had:

  • Higher monthly earnings (29% vs. 7% earning $2,000 or more per month)
  • Higher percentages of home ownership (36% vs. 13%)
  • A higher level of schooling completed (71% vs. 54% completing 12th grade or higher)
  • A lower percentage receiving social services in the past 10 years (59% vs. 80%)
  • Fewer arrests by age 27 (7% vs. 35% having 5 or more arrests)

At age 19, program participants had significantly higher general literacy levels. Participants also spent significantly fewer years in programs for educable mental impairment (15% vs. 34% spending a year or more in such programs).

Given these long-term results, the program has been estimated to save US$7.16 for every US$1.00 invested, due to savings in lower education and welfare expenditures combined with gains in productivity.

Reference : Monographs of the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, No. 8 and No. 9, adapted from Robert Myers, A Program Guide. (Washington, DC: Inter-American Development Bank, 1995 first draft).

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arrow-blue The Chicago Child Parent Center

A comprehensive center-based early intervention program that provides educational and family support services for children ages 3 to 9 in neighborhood schools. The program, which was first launched in 1967 in four sites in Chicago, is the second oldest US-federally funded preschool program (after Head Start). Currently the program operates in 23 centers throughout the city, serving 100 to 150 children per center. Multiple studies have evaluated CPC program effectiveness. The Chicago Longitudinal Study investigated 1,539 children (989 CPC participants) and monitored participants through their school age years by means of school records, interviews and surveys. Evaluations show that CPC participants showed higher reading and math scores, higher teacher ratings of school adjustment, fewer chances of repeating a grade, and higher chances of attaining more years of schooling and graduating from high school.  In addition, a long term evaluation  (Reynolds et al., 2002) showed the cost effectiveness of the program: children who participated needed less special services, reduced criminal justice systems expenditures, reduced welfare expenditure, and increased economic well-being and tax revenues (see graph 1). Overall, the benefit-cost analysis demonstrated that the preschool program provided a return to society of $7.14 per dollar invested.

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arrow-blue The Carolina Abecedarian Project

A carefully controlled study where 57 infants from low-income families were randomly assigned to receive early intervention in a high quality child care setting and 54 were in a non-treated control group. The treated children received full-time educational intervention in a high-quality childcare setting from infancy through age 5. Each child had an individualized prescription of educational activities consisting of games that were incorporated into his or her day. These activities addressed social, emotional, and cognitive development but gave particular emphasis to language. Some of the findings showed that children who participated in the early intervention program had higher cognitive test scores from the toddler years to age 21; Academic achievement in both reading and math was higher from the primary grades through young adulthood; Intervention children completed more years of education and were more likely to attend a four-year college; and mothers whose children participated in the program achieved higher educational and employment status than mothers whose children were not in the program. These results were especially pronounced for teen mothers.


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arrow-blue Head Start

Reference:  Garces, E., D. Thomas and J. Currie (2000). Longer Term Effects of Head Start. RAND Corporation

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arrow-blue Early Head Start

Reference: Early Head Start Research: Building their Futures: How Early Head Start Programs are Enhancing the Lives of Infants and Toddlers in Low-Income Families. Summary Report, U.S. Dept. Health and Human Service. (2001)

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