One year of preschool intervention or two: Does it matter?

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This study investigated the effects of the federally funded Child Parent Center preschool program on several cognitive and social outcomes through sixth grade. Seven hundred fifty-seven low-income Black children in the inner city enrolled in 1 or 2 years of a Head Start-type program at age 3 or 4. One hundred thirty Black children from similar neighborhoods entered the centers in kindergarten and served as a no-preschool comparison group. Results indicated that while 2-year participants began and ended kindergarten more academically competent than 1-year participants, through the elementary grades these children did not significantly or meaningfully differ from one another in reading comprehension, mathematics achievement, teacher ratings of social adjustment, rates of grade retention and special education placement, and teacher-rated parental school involvement. The overall effect size for Grades 1 to 6 was .15 standard deviations and values consistently favored the 2-year group. Both 1- and 2-year preschool participants were consistently and significantly better adjusted than no-preschool participants. The mean effect size of 1 or 2 years of preschool participation from Grades 1 to 6 across all outcomes was .34 standard deviations. Given limited enrollment and funding, findings lend support to enrolling as many children as possible in 1 year of quality Head Start-type programs. If the level of funding is not a major consideration or if the main criterion of success is school readiness at kindergarten entry, 2 years is preferable to 1 year.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-31
Number of pages31
JournalEarly Childhood Research Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Child Parent CenterP rogram In 1967,t he federalg overnmenpt rovidedC hapterI funds for the establish-mento f 11C PC Programsi n the Chicago Public Schools for economically and educationallyd isadvantagecdh ildren.A t presentt, he programi s funded by Chapter I and by the Stateo f Illinois in 25 Centerst hroughoutt he city. The presents tudy reports on the 20 centerst hat have both preschoola nd kindergartenc omponents.T he centersa re neighborhoods choolsi n which all children receivet he intervention.T he preschoolsa nd kindergartensa re locatedi n separateb uildingso r wings of the main school buildings. The preschool program is a structuredh alf-day morning program for 3-and 4-year olds and is designedt o promote children’s school readiness and reading/languagesk ills. As with Head Start and many other preschool programs,t he CPCs emphasizeth e provisiono f comprehensivsee rvicesa nd parent involvement.B oth featuresa re believedt o be strongly associated with program quality (Chafe& 1992;S chweinhart& Weikart, 1988).A lso, therei s no uniform curriculum.E ach centert ailorsi ts programt o children’s needst hrougha commonc ore of activitiesth ati ncludesin dividualizedin stru-tion, small-groupa ctivities,w hole-groupr eadinga nd writing activities,a nd field trips. Thesea ctivitiesa re designedto enhancer eadingr eadinessw, hich


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