NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Study Finds Benefits In Chicago Preschool Reading Program

May 9, 2001

Poor children who attended an intensive early childhood program in Chicago were more likely to finish high school and less likely to get into trouble with the law than their peers who attended other kinds of programs, a new study reports.

The study focused on the Chicago Child-Parent Center Program (CPC), which is operated by the public schools in 23 centers. The CPC offers a rigorous reading program to children from preschool to third grade. In addition, CPC provides family and health services. It also requires parents to help with their children's homework.

Over a 15-year period, University of Wisconsin researchers followed 1,500 children who had attended the program.

  • Fifty percent of CPC children graduated from high school -- compared with 39 percent of nonparticipating children.
  • Only 47 percent of CPC children dropped out of high school -- versus 55 percent of others.
  • Seventeen percent of CPC children were arrested as juveniles -- compared to 25 percent of non-participants.
  • Nine percent of CPC children were arrested for violent crimes -- versus 15 percent on their non-participating peers.

The study's authors, including lead author Arthur J. Reynolds, cautioned that their findings only applied to low-income, central-city children, and preschool programs might not provide as much benefit to middle class children.

Nevertheless, they called the policy implications "substantial," since they show that the CPC approach could reduce the "costs of expensive remedial education and juvenile justice services."

Source: Jacques Steinberg, "Gains Found for the Poor in Rigorous Preschool," New York Times, May 9, 2001; Arthur J. Reynolds et al., "Long-term Effects of an Early Childhood Intervention on Educational Achievement and Juvenile Arrest," Journal of the American Medical Association, May 9, 2001.


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