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Research > Perry Preschool Study > News Briefing Transcript

News Briefing Transcript

Transcript of audio news briefing on the HighScope Perry Preschool Study age 40 findings

November 18, 2004
1:00 p.m. ET

Host: Phil Sparks, HighScope spokesperson

Participants: Larry Schweinhart, HighScope president, Ypsilanti, Michigan; Jeanne Montie, senior research associate, HighScope Foundation; Matt Hennessee, president/CEO, Quik Trak, Inc., Portland, Oregon, and chair, HighScope Board of Directors; David Lawrence, president, Early Childhood Initiative Foundation, Miami, Florida; Albert Najera, chief of police, Sacramento, California, and spokesperson, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids.

Phil Sparks: Thank you operator. I am Phil Sparks and on behalf of the HighScope Educational Research Foundation, I want to welcome you to today's audio news briefing. As you know, we are releasing the age 40 report of the Foundation's study tracking young children who received high-quality early care and education at ages three and four now 35 years later to age 40, comparing them with a similar group of young children who did not receive care who were also tracked by the Foundation. Fifty-state data on how the states are funding their own state-supported preschool care and education programs can be found at the Web site of the National Institute for Early Education Research, which is located at Rutgers University; their Web site for the 50-state data is http://nieer.org/.

Let me start with a series of short opening statements and then we are going to go to the audio conference portion of the Q & A and open things up to questions. Let me first introduce Larry Schweinhart. He is the head of the HighScope Educational Research Foundation, and he is a co-author of the report. He will be giving the first statement. Larry?

Larry Schweinhart: Hello, my name is Larry Schweinhart, I am president of the HighScope Educational Research Foundation. Today, we are releasing the results of the nation's longest, most comprehensive study of the effects of high-quality early care and education. Beginning in 1962, the HighScope Perry Preschool study in Ypsilanti Michigan, randomly assigned African-American children from one neighborhood either to a group that received high-quality early care and education or to a group that received no comparable program. The two closely matched groups of young children were living in poverty and were at high risk of failing in school. HighScope interacted with all of the children from ages three or four to age 40. The age 40 data collection was thanks to funding from the McCormick Tribune Foundation.

The HighScope Perry Preschool study is a landmark study that redefines the importance of early childhood education in human lives and economics. It is the first study to find preschool program effects on educational placements, middle school achievement test scores, high school graduations, crime, earnings, and employment and the first to establish a large financial return on investment. It is the only study that has ever looked at the effects of an early childhood program through age 40. Our preschool program was built upon what was already known at the time to provide high-quality early care and education. Our teachers were well qualified and served no more than eight children at a time who lived in low-income families. They helped children participate in their own education by having them plan and make choices about their activities. They visited these families as part of the program to discuss their children's development with them, and the class was operated daily for children three and four years old.

We are now releasing the report findings. The bottom line is that high-quality early care and education programs not only raise high school graduation rates and test scores, but decades later, they lead to higher incomes and lower crime rates. Among the main findings were that, in education, children who received high-quality early education before entering school got higher achievement test scores and had less need of treatment for mental impairment; they had a stronger commitment to education, a higher rate of graduation from high school, and a lower rate of high school dropout. In crime, those who received high-quality early education were less likely to be involved in crimes throughout their adult lives. In the economy, those who received high-quality early education averaged thousands of dollars more in annual earnings than their counterparts who did not receive early education in their younger years. We believe that these findings can be expected of any Head Start, state preschool, or child care program that looks like the program that we studied. My colleagues will outline more of the specifics of the HighScope Perry Preschool study age 40 report. The findings are dramatic. But, more importantly, this report is a signal to policy makers at both the state and federal levels that investment in quality early care and education pays off handsomely. For every dollar invested in early care and education, the study shows, the return to society is more than $16. It's time we get serious about funding high-quality early care and education for every child in America. Thank you.

Phil Sparks: Thank you, Larry. Let me now introduce David Lawrence. He is from Miami, Florida. David is the president of the Early Childhood Initiative Foundation in Florida. And he is also an advisor on these issues to Governor Jeb Bush. David?

David Lawrence: Let me be brief, thank you, ladies and gentlemen. I am going to focus specifically on education this afternoon, because I think this report clearly demonstrates that high-quality early care and education programs contribute to school readiness right at the beginning and, frankly, success throughout education and throughout life. We already know from a lot of other studies about brain development that the ability to learn occurs at significantly younger ages than once thought, and it makes full sense to me that high-quality early care and education for three- and four-year-olds can have a positive effect on early learning. So, I am going to give you, in almost headline form, three conclusions out of this study that I think are most profound. Number one: 67 percent, literally two-thirds, of young children who participated in the HighScope Perry Preschool Program were judged ready for school at age five, and the important thing to note here is that this is compared to only 28 percent who were not in the program. Number two: 65 percent, almost two-thirds again, of those receiving high-quality early care and education had a high school diploma, versus only 45 percent, that is, less than half of those in the non-program group. And number three: again, almost the same figures — 61 percent of the Perry Preschool children continue to have a commitment to education and a better attitude towards school at age 15 compared to just 38 percent of the non-program group. So, I base my work and my life now on this — that we owe every child in America, at risk and not at risk, a chance at a high-quality education. And what this study shows is this obligation truly begins in the preschool years. I thank you.

Phil Sparks: Thank you David. Now, let me introduce Matt Hennessee. He is the president of the Oregon-based Quik Trak, Inc., and he is the chair of the HighScope Board of Directors. Matt will be talking about the business case, really, for HighScope. Matt?

Matt Hennessee: I am a business person and a former state administrator. And I am going to focus my remarks on the economic effects of having high-quality early care and education. Let me begin by stressing, as the other participants have said, that we should provide high-quality early care and education to every child in America because it will make a better citizen of each child and help us make a greater and better society. High-quality early care and education is not only a good policy, it's good politics. There are significant economic advantages to high-quality early care and education programs. In constant 2000 dollars, discounted at 3 percent, the return to society was nearly a quarter of a million dollars for each child enrolled in the Perry Preschool Program on a program investment of about $15,000 — a $16 return on a dollar of investment. Of that return, about three quarters, almost $13, went to the general public, and the rest went to each participant over their lifetimes, meaning $200,000 in savings to taxpayers. The economic return on investment is one of the best ever found for public investment or responsible private investment. Where else can you get a return of $16 on the dollar?

Also by age 40, the Perry Preschool participants' median earnings were about one-third higher than those of the former young children without the benefit of early care and education experience; from an economic standpoint, the free market economy would say they were one-third more productive. The Perry Preschool group was also more likely to have savings accounts and to own their homes. The summary of this report shows that there is a solid business case to be made for high-quality care early care and education. HighScope's longitudinal outcomes of the Perry Preschool study proves lasting effects on society and the ability to over time lower the cost of public assistance, releasing state government budgets from the burden of ever-increasing investments in building and maintaining prison beds. And the average taxpayer and business person gets released so that tax dollars can be freed up to go towards universal preschool or other priorities of each state and city.

Business groups, including the Committee for Economic Development, agree; they have advocated high-quality preschool programs for years, primarily on the strength of this study and a few corroborating studies. I am honored to be a part of this great announcement today and look forward to discussing it all over the country and the world to encourage key business leaders and political leaders to use their influence to insure that the children of today and tomorrow have HighScope or HighScope-type teacher training. And in fact, Larry and I had an opportunity this morning to meet for the second time with the president's domestic policy advisors to begin really moving towards this conversation, the education conversation nationally, including the findings of the Perry study at 40. I believe that we will have the chance to do that and also affect education policy, hopefully nationally. Thank you very much.

Phil Sparks: Our final speaker is Police Chief Albert Najera. Chief Najera is the chief of police for Sacramento, California. He is also representing a national group of law enforcement officials who promote early care and education called Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. Chief Najera?

Albert Najera: Thank you Phil. Just as a little background, Fight Crime, Invest in Kids is a national anticrime organization. We have more than 2500 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors and, interestingly enough, crime victims that are members. We believe that among the strongest weapons in the fight against crime are investments and programs proven to give kids the right start in life. The HighScope Perry Preschool Program's study findings prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the investment in giving all families access to high-quality prekindergarten programs can make every family in America feel safer from crime and violence by dramatically reducing the risk that children will grow to be criminals. You know, sadly and unfortunately, we know the consequences for many of these children denied the opportunity of quality prekindergarten programs. This study is really dramatically showing that by age 40, children denied high-quality prekindergarten programs are four times as likely to be arrested for drug felonies and more than twice as likely to be career offenders.

Children left out of these programs were also twice as likely, and this may be dramatic, twice as likely to be arrested for multiple violent felonies. As was indicated earlier, the dollars that are saved in these programs, that $16 to one dollar ratio is huge, and I am not even sure that the amount of money that [is all] we are spending on incarcerating people. As most of you know, or probably all of you know, we are incarcerating more people in this country than any other civilized society. We spend between 40 and 50 billion dollars a year. So, that's what would be [changed;] incarcerating people in this country. It's a travesty what we are doing, our correctional department, certainly here in California, our correctional units are just bulging, and there is serious strain on our state and national economy.

In closing, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids and its members agree that there is no substitute for tough law enforcement. But we also know that to have a lasting impact on crime, we need to be as willing to guarantee our kids a space in prekindergarten programs as we are to guarantee a criminal a prison cell. America cannot afford to ignore the evidence from the Perry Preschool Program and continue to squander lives and money by failing to give children a good start in life.

Phil Sparks: Thank you very much, Police Chief Najera. We will now begin the question-and-answer period and as we do, we will be joined by one of the other coauthors of the HighScope report for possible responses to questions from the press. That would be Jean Montie, and I will ask the operator to give you instructions on how to put your questions to any one of the panelists. Operator? First question, please.

Operator: First question. Our first question comes from Cheryl Wetzstein from The Washington Times. Hello?

Phil Sparks: Cheryl, how are you?

Cheryl Wetzstein: I am very good. I have two questions, and the first is, when did the Perry Preschool run — I believe it ran 1962 to 1967. Secondly, we have, of course, the Head Start reauthorization that's probably not happening this year, but it will come back up to the next year, and I wonder what are the ramifications in your study for Head Start reauthorization?

Phil Sparks: Larry Schweinhart, why don't you start the answer to that question?

Larry Schweinhart: Okay. It did run from 1962 through 1967, and those classes became part of the longitudinal study. After the program for the Perry study was concluded, we did another study comparing curriculum models. We compared the HighScope Perry Preschool curriculum model to direct instruction and also to a traditional nursery school model, and that ran another four years. Since that time, we have operated a demonstration preschool program continuously until today. Today, it's in the program as an operation at the HighScope Educational Research Foundation offices in Ypsilanti, Michigan. So, it never really did end. It changed form, it changed function with respect to the studies.

Now, the other question with respect to Head Start reauthorization: I think the first thing to say is that this study shows that any Head Start program, indeed any state preschool or child care program, can have the same effects if it meets certain criteria — teachers with bachelor's degrees, home visits, a program of education with the kids involved, and several other things specified in the report. Head Start approximates some of those conditions. I suspect there are a good many Head Start programs that achieve those conditions, and there are other Head Start programs that do not achieve them. I think the purpose of good public policy is to support and encourage those kinds of criteria of quality to take place within as many Head Start programs as possible. So that gives us a kind of a lens for looking at Head Start programs generally.

So, then we come to the current Head Start reauthorization, and then the question would be, well, to what extent does what's on the table now contribute or not contribute to those purposes. The House version of the Head Start reauthorization is primarily about governance; it's about the question of how the states might be involved in Head Start administration. This study really doesn't speak to that. This study says these programs are good, it is worthwhile for the public to invest in them. The point that I would draw from this is quite simply that we need a good solid national policy, that probably involves federal and state government in different ways according to what they can do best. So it sort of speaks to the point generally, but doesn't comment on the House version of the bill.

The Senate version of the bill is focused on fairly lengthy specification of child outcomes. I think that it's a good idea for government to specify general goals of the program, but it's not so clear that it's a good idea to be highly prescriptive and focus on lots of objectives, and I worry about that Senate bill list being too long. I think it's very clear that we want to achieve some very important long-term goals here. But the things that we found in the HighScope Perry Preschool study are not things we want to make as goals or objectives of Head Start simply because it would require too much research to look at the programs for that long. What we ought to be doing is identifying shorter-term goals that are correlated with those goals and then making sure that Head Start is focusing on the short-term goals, so the notion of focusing on, for example, literacy and mathematics, and problem-solving ability, and social relationships, seems to be a pretty important specification of Head Start goals. But I think that the Senate was pretty zealous about identifying them in great detail.

Cheryl Wetzstein: Thank you.

Phil Sparks: Operator, next question please.

Operator: Our next question comes from Greg Toppo of USA Today.

Phil Sparks: Hi Greg.

Greg Toppo: Couple of quick questions: the first one is on what makes the 40-year study important. I am reading the summary that talks about how, it is actually not clear whether the benefits to economic status lasted into midlife. I mean, can we say anything about whether the economic status has continued to be better for the kids who are in this program.

Phil Sparks: Yeah, let's start with Larry and then Matt. I want to come to you. Larry?

Larry Schweinhart: Yes, the answer is that the return on investment was absolutely better. The return on investment for taxpayers that we identified at age 27 was $7.16. The comparable figure at age 40 is $12.90, so it's substantially greater. Why is it greater? It's greater because the effects were stronger than we would have anticipated, in particular the effects on crime, earnings, and employment. Eighty percent, I believe, of the return on investment that we identified at age 40 was due to the reduction in male crime. There are two things about male crime from 28 to 40 that were unexpected. One is that it continued: there was actually more crime from 28 to 40 then there were adult crimes up to age 27. I am surprised by that. I thought crime would diminish, but in fact it remained at the same level and because of that, then the effect which was essentially reduction in half, continued at a large level on that — that meant the return on investment was substantially greater. The second point concerns the employment, and the earnings driven by employment. The earnings difference between groups was only $2000 at age 27, it wasn't very much, and at age 40 it had expanded to $5500, so the program effect was substantially greater at age 40 than at age 27. So in both of these areas, we got stronger effects than anticipated and I think those are the two most important effects.

Phil Sparks: And Matt, why don't you continue this conversation, Matt Hennessee.

Matt Hennessee: Yeah, I would be happy to. Some of the other areas which I thought were pretty interesting were the employment rates of those in the program versus not in the program, 76 percent versus 62 percent. If you just take the males from an employment standpoint, program males were employed 70 percent versus 50 percent, which I think is pretty substantial. For females in the program versus not in the program, employment was 80 percent versus 55 percent, which I think is also pretty substantial. The other area that I was pretty intrigued by is the home ownership side of it, where again at age 40 those who own their own homes did so at a 37 percent rate, versus a 28 percent rate; owned a car at age 40, 82 percent versus 60 percent, and particularly for males, 80 percent versus 50 percent, which I think is pretty substantial.

Greg Toppo: I am sorry, what was your last figure?

Matt Hennessee: I am sorry, those who owned cars.

Greg Toppo: Males.

Matt Hennessee: Males, in particular, 80 percent in the program versus males that were not [car owners] at 50 percent.

Greg Toppo: Okay.

Matt Hennessee: Overall again, I look at [these findings] as a business leader and say again, these are the kinds of effects that we want to develop. From a political standpoint, it really says, as we think about some of the conversations that are going on nationally about the importance of literacy, which we too believe is a very important part of the ability to reduce crime and to have people make greater life choices, that literacy must be connected to socialization issues as well. And I think we've got the makings for a much better society.

Greg Toppo: I have a follow-up question, but I can come back to this; other people have questions.

Phil Sparks: Why don't you, go ahead and ask.

Greg Toppo: Just in terms of duplication prospects, the study talks about how you know, the two-and-a-half- hour class every day with four teachers for 20 or 25 kids and an one-and-a-half-hour home visit every week, is that correct?

Larry Schweinhart: That's right.

Greg Toppo: I wonder if, maybe Larry can answer this question, whether that's something that it's, do you think can be practically duplicated whether it is actually being duplicated in real life.

Phil Sparks: And then what I want to do is have Larry do it and then David Lawrence who is struggling with trying to implement a system in Florida talk a little bit about it too. But start with Larry.

Larry Schweinhart: That's good. Yes, of course. I don't think your question really has much to do with the classes. Obviously you can have classes two-and-a-half, three, four hours a day; that's not the issue of the question, it's the home visits.

Greg Toppo: Or it sounds like it was pretty intense program too.

Larry Schweinhart: Well it was intense. Yeah. But it's durable.

Greg Toppo: Okay.

Larry Schweinhart: The teacher-child ratio and group size were primarily to make sure the staff had time to focus on visits to families, and I think if you take into consideration those very crime rates we were just talking about, it leads to some general feelings and truth that communities may not be as safe as they used to be. And so there is a greater reluctance to engage in a lot of home visits. Head Start requires two home visits a year as compared to the weekly ones. For programs, I think the challenge is to have substantial parent involvement in the program, and people can be creative about how to achieve that. If you are in a child care situation, home visits may not be practical at all. But the question is not how do you make sure the parents show up, the question is how do you have substantial partnership with parents so that they really are a part of the program, whether it would be through home visits or group meetings or informal gatherings or whatever might be. But the point is that, it does need to be substantial.

Phil Sparks: And then David Lawrence from Miami, what would you add?

David Lawrence: Well the only thing I would add is that our state of Florida is struggling to arrive at fulfilling a constitutional amendment that we passed in 2002, that requires every four-year-old in the State of Florida to have, and these words are specifically used in the amendment, a high-quality prekindergarten experience available for all four-year-olds beginning next August. But the details will define what you mean by high-quality. People who are in the early childhood field, backed up by all sorts of research, the sort of research that HighScope and others have done over several decades, will tell you that high-quality means teacher credentials, it means research-based curriculum, it means how many hours a day you do this, it means the length of the school year, it means a genuine parental involvement. As Dr. Schweinhart just said, it means you look at children not just at age four, but continue on from prenatal to age five. The trick here is that a program needs to be high-quality, it's not simply a matter of of having kids in a small classroom in a low ratio, it's about having all the elements of high quality. Then you will have real outcomes.

Phil Sparks: Thank you, David. Operator, we will go to the next question please. Operator?

Operator: Our next question comes from Les Kjos of United Press International.

Phil Sparks: Hi Les.

Les Kjos: Hi there. The study was primarily, or I think entirely, done on African-Americans, and I was wondering, does it have any implication on the achievement gap that we are experiencing now?

Phil Sparks: Larry, why don't you take that one, Larry Schweinhart.

Larry Schweinhart: Okay. Sure. It certainly could, to the extent that we provide programs for children who are genuinely profiting from those opportunities and to the extent that we targeted African-Americans or other people of color who are at special risk of failure in school, it ought to diminish the achievement gap. In particular at age 14, we saw 49 percent of the children in the program getting a basic level of achievement as compared to only 15 percent in the no-program group so, so that obviously if you apply that to an achievement gap situation, you would reduce it.

Phil Sparks: And Police Chief Najera of Sacramento, in terms of young children in communities of color relating not only to the achievement gap, but to crime prevention, what's your sense to what this report means in terms of young Latino kids and young African-American kids.

Albert Najera: You know, law enforcement is always in search of that holy grail in terms of crime prevention, and there are precious few things out there that really work. I think with this program we are seeing something that is quantified and it works.

Phil Sparks: Thank you, Police Chief.

Larry Schweinhart: I might comment on that. We conducted a follow-up study of the Head Start program in Greeley, Colorado, that focused primarily on children who were Hispanic-Americans and we did find similar long-term effects. I think crime was one of those.

Phil Sparks: Thank you, Larry. Operator, next question please. Operator, I know you are there.

Operator: Our next question comes from Bill Celis from the Boston Globe.

Bill Celis: Good morning, gentlemen.

Phil Sparks: Hi.

Bill Celis: I wanted to ask you, the issue for early childhood education, going back many years now, based on what I've read, has always been about access, by everybody, mostly poor people, people of color, etc. Is there anything that any of you see on the funding in terms of funding in this administration in Washington across states that would suggest that this period of time is different from previous decades and efforts to improve funding for early childhood education?

Phil Sparks: And on that question, Bill, I am going ask Larry to start talking about the federal government, but then I want to drop back down to Florida — the state has had some financial crisis, but is still moving towards a universal system — and have David Lawrence comment on state-specific actions, Larry why don't you start.

Larry Schweinhart: Basically, no, I don't see anything with any unusual promise here; I think we are dealing with the same situation as we always have. One of the things that has struck me, as I compare the early childhood policy domain to other policy domains, is how fractionated it is. In welfare, for example, basically you've got a federal-state grid, the federal government working with states to establish policy, with some variation from state to state, but in the context of federal permission for experimentation and so forth. But basically you've got a unified national approach to welfare policy, and that's true for most policy domains. With respect to early childhood programs, you've got one of the most fractionated policies you can imagine. We started out with the Head Start program for some years, but the program was simply not growing enough to deal with the access issues that you are referring to, and so in the mid 1980s, basically, state governments started picking it up and developing programs very much like Head Start — preschool programs for children at risk of school failure or living in poverty. And now the majority of the states provide these programs. The irony is that in a sense we've got federal Head Start programs in competition with the state preschool programs. And then there is a great debate about whether it is better for the federal government or state governments to administer these programs. It seems to me the answer to that question is yes, it is better for the federal government and the state governments to administer these programs.

Phil Sparks: David Lawrence.

David Lawrence: Well, let me add that most of my work focuses on the state and the local level. I think much of the power in the early childhood movement is found state by state, and certainly the universal prekindergarten movement is essentially a movement state by state. I give you one other thing to think about. While the Perry Preschool Project speaks quite specifically to at risk children—all of the children studied were at-risk children — the same principles apply to all children, and then indeed many children who start school substantially behind don't come from traditional at-risk and disadvantaged families. Increasingly, as people talk about universal prekindergarten, they talk about this as a movement about everyone's child. We passed this in Florida 59 to 41 percent, arguing it wasn't about the children over there or certain kinds of children, that this was a matter of basic equity and wisdom and smart investment for all children, and that's how we came to have it passed. If we had only talked about certain kinds of children, I frankly think that we would not have passed it.

Matt Hennessee: Phil, can I also add to this?

Phil Sparks: Yes, this is Matt Hennessee.

Matt Hennessee: Yeah. Bill, I like the question and I guess what I partly want to do with this answer is really start to speak to hope more than what has been. I really appreciate what David Lawrence is saying in terms of the importance of looking at this study is recognizing that, if this program can work for at-risk young people, it certainly ought to be able to work for all young people. Certainly as an African-American, it's one of the things I think about from my community and as a business leader. But I would also say to you that the biggest area of hope I look to is that the opportunity for these findings to land in the hands and the conversation begun with various educators and leaders of education departments and governors around the state, for them to realize that the investments they are making really do have return. Sometimes I think people are reluctant to make these kinds of commitments because it feels like they are making an investment without any real data. And what we are able to provide for them is the real data that says, here are the outcomes. The report doesn't say you are going to end crime, it doesn't say you are going to have zero people on public assistance, but it certainly does say rather clearly that you will have less people in the present criminal justice system, less people on public assistance. Those are areas that are draining states of their ability to even fund pre-K because of the amount of responsibility they have for some of these other programs socially.

Phil Sparks: Thank you, Matt. Operator, next question please.

Operator: Our next question comes from LeAnn Holt from the Albuquerque Journal. 

Phil Sparks: Hi, LeAnn.

LeAnn Holt: I have a couple of questions, the first one is what kind of credentials do you recommend that the preschool teachers have, and the second one is how is the time divided during the day for the children, between structured academics and you know, creative play time? And kind of a follow-on to that question, how much do you involve computers and technology in the children's learning?

Phil Sparks: We will have Larry Schweinhart answer that question, Larry?

Larry Schweinhart: I really love the last question. We didn't have any computers in the 60s.

LeAnn Holt: Well, that's true.

Larry Schweinhart: But today we certainly do integrate computers into the curriculum. In fact, in my answer I want to bridge from the historical facts to our current recommendations; that's the challenge in talking about this study. Let's start with credentials. The teachers in the study all had bachelor's degrees in education, and we recommend that teachers have bachelor's degrees of education in early childhood programs. That's the simple answer, you know, you can get into fine points about exactly how to do that, whether if you have two teachers in a classroom both need the bachelor's degree. But it's very valuable to have teachers that have bachelor's degrees and professional certification; ideally that is targeted for this level of children they are dealing with.

The second question about the time of the day has a fairly elaborate answer. I will try to make it simple. There was a daily routine in the program that involved children participating in their own education so that the teachers were in charge but the children also had a say in what was going on. The room was arranged into activity areas — maybe a house area, block area, art area, that sort of thing. And the children got together with the teacher in small groups at the beginning of the day to make plans. The plan might just be pointing, I am going over there, or it might be saying, I am going to the house area and I am going to dress up and play mommy and daddy or something. The point is, if they would make articulated plans, then they would do those plans, in a sequence called plan-do-review, they would make the plans, carry out the plans, engaging in their own learning activities that they had structured themselves, and then they would review them afterwards. One of the things that they were learning was the ability to take control of their own experience to anticipate consequences, and I suspect it had a lot to do with the crime prevention found in this study.

The other thing that was going on was social relations, they were in a guided atmosphere so that the teachers could help them resolve conflicts and generally develop their social skills. After that plan-do-review time, there was small-group time, large-group time, outside time, cleanup time, snack time, all those traditional kinds of things. The key element in all of those was that the children had some degree of choice over what they were doing. So, they were learning how to make choices, as well as learning literacy, mathematics problem solving, and so forth. Just to return to the question of computers. As I said, we didn't have any computers back then, but we certainly have dealt with computers in relationship to learning in the classroom since that time. We've even published catalogues and software. Some computer programs are way better than others; some are more sensitive to children's actual developmental needs and interests. And it's possible to discriminate those and in fact to recommend those as examples for where others can be. A lot of the programs out there for kids these days are pretty good. In the beginning, there was a lot of stuff that just converted work sheets to run them on the computer. That was certainly a waste of time. People keep working at it, and there is a future for it.

Phil Sparks: Thank you Larry. Operator, next question, please.

Operator: Our next question comes from John Mooney of the Newark Star Ledger.

Phil Sparks: Hi, John.

John Mooney: Hi, folks. I am coming from a state that actually you guys cited in your report as making some progress on that. We are five, six years into our equity ruling which ordered quality preschool for the 30 largest at-risk school districts, including some of the big cities. And you cited it as a potential model. Can you elaborate a little on that, on what we are doing right, and maybe some cautionary stories as well, and some of the struggles we have had.

Phil Sparks: Sure, and Larry would be appropriate for that.

Larry Schweinhart: Yeah, in fact, John I have been trying to call you.

John Mooney: Yeah, I know.

Larry Schweinhart: Great. The thing that's exciting to me about the preschool movement today is exemplified by what happened in New Jersey, which was basically that the judicial branch of government got involved and took very seriously the findings of the HighScope Perry Preschool study that said you've got to do certain kinds of things in order to achieve these results. What typically takes place in legislative government is that compromises are made. David Lawrence, awhile ago, was talking about the tremendous pressures towards compromise in a situation where the people pretty clearly voted for quality programs. I think what's really appealing about New Jersey is, because of the judicial involvement, there is a statement that these programs must be of quality. There is a statement in the amendment in Florida as well. These programs must be of quality and that's a new element in the preschool movement, to the extent that those kinds of elements can be translated somehow into other settings. However that might take place, I think it's going to really strengthen the probability that the programs that we have out there in the field are really making the kind of contributions that they are capable of. And knowing that we can make those kinds of contributions, we are really selling our kids and our own future short if we don't make those kind of divisions.

John Mooney: And do you have a sense of how that quality is being achieved? Not only did the court say it, but that it's being implemented?

Larry Schweinhart: I think it's probably being achieved better there than any place else in the country from everything that I have heard. From a simple financial perspective, it's getting the staff-child ratios right and getting the certified teachers into place. And that's happening a few places but it's not very widespread right now, because there are only a few states that require these things and New Jersey is one of those. Thank you.

John Mooney: Can I do a follow up?

Phil Sparks: Yeah.

John Mooney: And this is more back to the study itself and I apologize I have been in and out so, you may have addressed this. Do you control the study for other factors that may have arisen among these kids, you know, between ages three and 40? I don't know what they would be, but in terms of research and obviously that's of a long span and a fairly small sample, relatively small.

Phil Sparks: Yeah, Larry you want to….

Larry Schweinhart: Are there controls for that at all? Jeanne, why don't you take this first?

Phil Sparks: This is Jeanne Montie, who is also one of the co-authors of the report.

Jeanne Montie: Yeah, we did actually. In our analysis this time we used analysis of covariance, which we hadn't done in previous reports up through age 27, and we did have seven variables that we used as covariates that had been related to outcomes. I don't know if I can think of them all, Larry, maybe you can help me, but mother's employment was one of them, children's mean IQs at the study entry, Larry what were some of the others?

Larry Schweinhart: The mother's and father's education….

Jeanne Montie: Mother, yeah.

Larry Schweinhart: Household density, rooms per person and that sort of thing.

Phil Sparks: And those all are addressed in these findings. There were one or another that were so outstanding that they would have affected this.

Jeanne Montie: Well, we statistically controlled for that possibility. We removed statistically the effects that those variables might have had.

Phil Sparks: Okay.

John Mooney: Great. Thank you very much.

Phil Sparks: Thanks, Jeanne. Operator next question please?

Operator: I am showing no further questions.

Phil Sparks: Terrific. I want to thank the speakers. I want to thank the reporters who have joined just for this hour of conversation about the report. Again it can be found at www.highscope.org. If you have any additional questions, Larry, why don't you give them your telephone number at HighScope Educational Research Foundation in case they want to reach you? Larry Schweinhart?

Larry Schweinhart: Yeah, that's fine. That's 734.485.2000. Let me repeat that, 734.485.2000.

 
 
 

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