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Ypsilanti Researchers Will Coordinate Early-Education Study in 31 Nations

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The High/Scope Foundation of Ypsilanti, Mich., sponsor of a widely cited study of the effects of early-childhood education on economically disadvantaged children, has been asked to coordinate a 31-country study of the education of 4-year-olds.

The foundation has received $25,000 from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to conduct the U.S. portion of an international study of preprimary education sponsored by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement. The foundation was also asked by the iea to coordinate the international project, according to David P. Weikart, president of High/Scope.

Expansion of Funds

In the last few years, Mr. Weikart said, the amount spent on early-childhood education in the United States has undergone "an enormous expansion"--from $3 billion at the start of the 1980's to $9 billion this year.

That growth is related, according to Mr. Weikart, to the fact that over the same period the proportion of working women with children under age 5 has increased from 43 percent to 51 percent. "We're moving to the equivalent of full employment for women," he added.

Policy Development

The international project, which will begin this summer and span nine years, presents an opportunity to study the growth and development of 4-year-olds in a variety of cultural settings and to develop policy based on the findings, Mr. Weikart explained.

"What we should get is a clearer picture of the really important events in the lives of 4-year-olds that should shape their growth6afterwards," he said. Looking at the experiences of children from a wide range of countries--including European, Communist-bloc, and Third World--the researchers will ask whether there are common strategies that can serve as a basis for policy recommendations.

Status Reports

The U.S. portion of the study is expected to cost $400,000 annually, Mr. Weikart said. The operation of the international coordinating center, which Mr. Weikart will direct, will cost the same amount, but each participating country will be required to raise its own funds.

To allow researchers and policymakers interested in the iea study to follow its work, the project will develop a membership group that will receive periodic information.

For more details on the project, write Mr. Weikart at 600 North River St., Ypsilanti, Mich. 48197.

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