Chicago children who attended a high-quality prekindergarten-to-3rd grade learning program tended to be more successful as adults than peers educated in standard preschool and elementary programs, according to a study that tracked 1,400 children for 25 years.
The study was published in the June issue of Science magazine. Researchers used the data to show how the quality of early-learning programs affected outcomes in areas such as graduation rates, socioeconomic status, likelihood of drug and alcohol abuse, and likelihood of incarceration.
Cohort members, who are 93 percent African-American and now age 28, were either enrolled in one of Chicago’s standard early-childhood-learning programs or the Child-Parent Center Education Program. The latter is a publicly financed program based in the city and regarded for its good teachers, small classes, and continuity through the early-learning years, among other features.
A research team led by the University of Minnesota’s Arthur J. Reynolds found that, overall, the more than 900 pupils enrolled in the child-parent center program had the more positive outcomes by age 28, compared with the approximately 500 children who were randomly enrolled in alternative early-learning programs. Eighteen percent more of the center’s pupils achieved moderate or higher levels of socioeconomic status; 55 percent more achieved on-time high school graduation, and 36 percent fewer had been arrested for violence. The findings were particularly bright for males and children of high school dropouts.
A version of this article appeared in the July 13, 2011 edition of Education Week as Early Learning Linked to Adult Successes