Perry Preschool Project

Updated: Jan 25, 2018
Evidence Rating:
Suggestive Tier

Highlights

  • Program:

    A high-quality preschool program for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

  • Evaluation Methods:

    A well-conducted randomized controlled trial (RCT) with a sample of 128 three- and four-year-old African-American children living in poverty and assessed to be at high risk of school failure.

  • Key Findings:

    Large effects on educational attainment, income, criminal activity, and other important life outcomes, sustained well into adulthood.

  • Other:

    This was a relatively small study launched in the 1960s, and it included a few modest departures from random assignment that may reduce confidence in the findings. Replication of these findings in a second trial would be desirable to confirm the initial results and establish that they generalize to present-day settings.

The Perry Preschool Project, carried out from 1962 to 1967, provided high-quality preschool education to three- and four-year-old African-American children living in poverty and assessed to be at high risk of school failure. About 75 percent of the children participated for two school years (at ages 3 and 4); the remainder participated for one year (at age 4). The preschool was provided each weekday morning in 2.5-hour sessions taught by certified public school teachers with at least a bachelor’s degree. The average child-teacher ratio was 6:1. The curriculum emphasized active learning, in which the children engaged in activities that (i) involved decision making and problem solving, and (ii) were planned, carried out, and reviewed by the children themselves, with support from adults. The teachers also provided a weekly 1.5-hour home visit to each mother and child, designed to involve the mother in the educational process and help implement the preschool curriculum at home. The program’s cost was approximately $13,780 per child per school year (in 2017 dollars).

Click here to go to the Perry Preschool Study’s web page.

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References

Lawrence J. Schweinhart, Helen V. Barnes, and David P. Weikart. Significant Benefits: The High/Scope Perry Preschool Study Through Age 27 (High/Scope Press, 1993).

Lawrence J. Schweinhart, PhD. The High/Scope Perry Preschool Study Through Age 40: Summary, Conclusions, and Frequently Asked Questions (High/Scope Press 2004).

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