Early childhood education continues to be a high priority across the nation. Total public funding at all levels now exceeds $30 billion annually (Council of Economic Advisers, 2016), which amounts to a doubling of investment over the past two decades (U.S. General Accounting Office, 1999), while public-private sector initiatives, such as Pay for Success, have also helped expand access (Temple & Reynolds, 2015).
Providing better quality and more intensive public education for children from poor and at-risk backgrounds can significantly increase their chances at ending the cycle of poverty.
Research conducted on a long-term data set from some of Chicago’s most-challenged neighborhoods has found that four to six years of educational interventions in a child’s life ended up producing enormous benefits by the time the children made it into early adulthood.
Although substantial investments in early childhood intervention have continued, whether gains are sustained past kindergarten for routinely implemented programs is a critical research need. HCRC researchers performed a re-analysis of data from the Chicago Longitudinal Study to investigate the effects of program duration from preschool to 3rd grade on school outcomes and whether the effects differ by gender.
In addition to long-term initiatives, the following are recent additions to HCRC's research partnerships.
Sustaining early learning gains requires a comprehensive and effective system of services from preschool through the school-age years. This Brief describes the role of two key elements of sustaining gains: aligned curriculum and collaborative leadership. They are part of the Child-Parent Center P-3 school reform model. Metrics for measuring and implementing each of these elements are described and their relationship to student learning gains in Chicago and Saint Paul schools.
HCRC researchers are partnering with Northwestern University on a new phase of the seminal Chicago Longitudinal Study (CLS). Since 1985, the CLS has tracked the development of a group of 1,539 individuals who grew up in urban poverty. Intervention group members attended the Child-Parent Centers (CPC) beginning in preschool and continued participation through 2nd or 3rd grade. The new phase of CLS research, which began in spring 2017, further examines the connection between CPC participation, educational attainment, and physical and mental health outcomes at age 37-39.