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Long-term Effects of an Early Childhood Intervention on Educational Achievement and Juvenile Arrest: A 15-Year Follow-up of Low-Income Children in Public Schools

NCJ Number
Journal of the American Medical Association Volume: 285 Issue: 18 Dated: May 9, 2001 Pages: 2339-2346,1046
Arthur J. Reynolds Ph.D.; Judy A. Temple Ph.D.; Dylan L. Robertson; Emily A. Mann MSSW
Date Published
May 2001
9 pages
A 15-year follow-up of low-income children in public schools in Chicago sought to determine the long-term effectiveness of a Federal center-based preschool and school-based intervention program for urban low-income children.
The research used data from a nonrandomized, matched-group cohort of 1,539 low-income, mostly Black children born in 1980 and enrolled in alternative early childhood programs in 25 sites. The Chicago Child-Parent Center (CPC) Program provided comprehensive education, family, and health services and included half-day preschool for 989 children in the study group at ages 3-4 years, half-day or full-day kindergarten, and school-age services in linked elementary schools at ages 6 to 9 years. The comparison group of 550 children took part in alternative early childhood programs (full-day kindergarten). The study examined rates of high school completion and school dropout by age 20 years, juvenile arrests for violent and nonviolent offenses, and grade retention and special education placement by age 18 years. Results revealed that children who participated in the preschool intervention for 1 or 2 years had a higher rate of high school completion; more years of completed education; and lower rates of juvenile arrest, violent arrests, and school dropout than did the preschool comparison group when adjusted for several covariates. Both preschool and school age participation were significantly associated with lower rates of grade retention and special education services as well. The effects of preschool participation on educational attainment were greater for males than females. Finally, children with extended program participation from preschool through second or third grade also experienced lower rates of grade retention than did those with less extensive participation. The analysis concluded that these findings are among the strongest indication that established programs administered through public schools can promote children’s long-term success. Tables (Author abstract modified)