A new study published in PLOS ONE by researchers from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development examined the long-term impacts of an early childhood program called the Chicago School Readiness Project (CSRP) and found evidence suggesting that the program positively affected children’s executive function and academic achievement during adolescence.
The program targeted children’s self-regulation skills while also raising the quality of inner-city Head Start classrooms serving high-risk neighborhoods in Chicago. Researchers have been following the children involved in the study since the beginning of preschool through the high school years.
“Although we did not find large impacts on all of the outcomes assessed, the positive results for executive function and academic achievement were certainly encouraging,” said lead author and Research Assistant Professor, Tyler Watts. “We think these results suggest that high-quality programs can produce important effects on key long-term outcomes.”
The Chicago School Readiness Project was launched in 2004 and conducted by NYU’s Deputy Provost C. Cybele Raver. To evaluate the success of the program, Raver implemented a randomized control trial, and 602 children enrolled in inner-city Head Start classes participated in the study. Initial results found that the program boosted children’s early school readiness, but these positive effects slipped away when children entered elementary school. Despite seeing early signs of “fadeout,” Watts and Raver decided to conduct further follow-up to see if effects might be detected during adolescence, a developmentally critical period.
“Many recent early childhood interventions have found that effects fade in the years immediately following the end of the program,” Watts explained. “Unfortunately, most of these studies have not continued to follow-up with participants past elementary school. Our results suggest that if we expect early programs to produce long-lasting results, then we should keep looking at outcomes at least into adolescence.”
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