Lifetime Effects of Preschool
Adults at age 40 who participated in a high-quality preschool program in their early years have higher earnings, are more likely to hold a job, have committed fewer crimes, and are more likely to have graduated from High School. Overall, the study documented a return to society of more than $17 for every tax dollar invested in the early education program.
To identify both the short- and long-term effects of a high-quality preschool education program for young children living in poverty.
The study, begun in 1962, identified 123 high-risk three- and four-year-olds over 25 years in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The researchers randomly assigned 58 of the children to a high-quality early care and education setting; the rest received no preschool program, and were then tracked through their lives to age 40. These children were studied every year from ages 3 through 11, and again at ages 14, 15, 19 and 27 to measure use of special education services, juvenile delinquency, teen pregnancy, employment history and post-secondary education attainment, among other indicators.
The high-quality preschools were staffed by teachers who were well-qualified, who served no more than eight children from low-income families at a time, and who visited these families as part of the program to discuss their child's development. The preschool was a comprehensive program including education, health and family support and ran five days per week, 2.5 hours per day, at a cost of $14,400 (2001 dollars, discounted annually at 3%) per child for two years.
Among the study's major findings in the educational area are:
- More of the group who received high-quality early education graduated from high school than the non-program group (65% vs. 45%), particularly females (84% vs. 32%);
- Fewer females who received high-quality early education than non-program females required treatment for mental impairment (8% vs. 36%) or had to repeat a grade (21% vs. 41%); and
- The group who received high-quality early education on average outperformed the non-program group on various intellectual and language tests during their early childhood years, on school achievement tests between ages 9 and 14, and on literacy tests at ages 19 and 27.
Reprinted with the permission of the Early Education for All Campaign. © Strategies for Children / Early Education for All. All rights reserved.
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