The Chicago Longitudinal Study is a federally-funded investigation of the effects of an early and extensive childhood intervention in central-city Chicago called the Child-Parent Center (CPC) Program. The study began in 1986 to investigate the effects of government-funded kindergarten programs for 1,539 children in the Chicago Public Schools.
The study is in its 20th year of operation. Besides investigating the short- and long-term effects of early childhood intervention, the study traces the scholastic and social development of participating children and the contributions of family and school practices to children's behavior. The CPC program provides educational and family support services to children from preschool to third grade. It is funded by Title I and has operated in the Chicago Public Schools since 1967
This study examines the lives of 123 children born in poverty and at high risk of failing in school.From 1962–1967, at ages 3 and 4, the subjects were randomly divided into a program group that received a high-quality preschool program based on HighScope's participatory learning approach and a comparison group who received no preschool program. In the study's most recent phase, 97% of the study participants still living were interviewed at age 40. Additional data were gathered from the subjects' school, social services, and arrest records.
The study found that adults at age 40 who had the preschool program had higher earnings, were more likely to hold a job, had committed fewer crimes, and were more likely to have graduated from high school than adults who did not have preschool.
Comparing the preschool group to the no-preschool group, we found the following significant differences through age 27:
Head Start provides comprehensive early child development services to low-income children, their families, and communities. In 1998, Congress determined, as part of Head Start's reauthorization, that the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) should conduct a national study to determine the impact of Head Start on the children it serves. In October 2000, DHHS awarded a contract to Westat in collaboration with the Urban Institute, American Institutes for Research, and Decision Information Resources to conduct this study through spring of the children’s first grade year.
The National Head Start Impact Study has two primary goals. The first is to determine on a national basis how Head Start affects the school readiness of children participating in the program as compared to children not enrolled in Head Start. Does Head Start improve children's cognitive development, general knowledge, approaches to learning, social and emotional development, communication skills, fine and gross motor skills, and physical well-being? In addition, how does Head Start affect the lives of the families of children enrolled in the program?
The second goal of the study is to determine under which conditions Head Start works best and for which children. To meet this goal, the study will examine various factors that could affect the results of the Head Start program. These factors will include differences among children attending Head Start, differences in children's home environments, the different types of Head Start programs available (home or center-based, quality indicators such as staff ratio, curriculum, part- vs. full-day programs, one versus two years exposure), and the availability and quality of other child care and preschool programs in a particular area.
The National Head Start Impact Study is a longitudinal study that involves approximately 5,000 three and four year old preschool children across 84 nationally representative grantee/delegate agencies in communities where there are more eligible children and families than can be served by the program. The children participating were randomly assigned to either a treatment group (which had access to Head Start services) or a comparison group (which did not have access to Head Start services, but could receive other community resources).
Data collection began in the fall of 2002 and ended in spring 2006, following children through the spring of their first grade year. It includes in-person interviews with parents; in-person child assessments; direct observations of the quality of different early childhood care settings; and teacher ratings of children.
In 2006, DHHS awarded another contract to Westat and its colleagues (Chesapeake Research Associates, Abt Associates, American Institutes for Research, the University of Virginia Center for the Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning, AMSAQ) to follow the Head Start Impact Study children and their families through spring of their third grade year.
Dr. Ballard brought up the following point about the study:
The Head Start Impact study was designed to study whether Head Start was effective. The study found that the impact of Head Start versus the control group was no different by third grade. However, there were some issues with the study. This link provides information from the National Head Start Association on the study: Head Start Impact Study New and Policy Update
This study is commonly being used to make the case that early childhood has no long term benefits. However, it is not an appropriate use of the study since 60% of the children in the control group actually attended an early childhood program. In fact, 14% of the four year old control group and 18% of the three year old control group attended other Head Starts that were not involved in the study.
A recent study compared the 40% of children in the control group who were not in an early childhood program with the Head Start group and found better outcomes for the Head Start children
The Abecedarian project was a carefully controlled scientific study of the potential benefits of early childhood education for poor children. Four cohorts of individuals, born between 1972 and 1977, were randomly assigned as infants to either the early educational intervention group or the control group.