Early Childhood Education

High/Scope Perry Preschool Study


The High/Scope Perry Preschool Study is regarded as one of the pioneering studies of the long-term effects of high-quality preschool programs for young children living in poverty. This study was begun by David P. Weikart and colleagues in 1962, at a time when people had started thinking about the possibilities of fighting poverty through early childhood education. The design of the study builds on random assignment of 123 children to one of two groups—one that received a high-quality preschool program at ages 3 and 4 or one that did not. Data have been collected annually from ages 3 to 11, and at 14, 15, 19, 27 and 40, with only 6 percent of data missing. The program maintained high quality with systematic use of an educational model, certified teachers each serving 5-6 children, and weekly home visits. Compared to those without the program, program participants were more ready for school, required fewer placements for mental impairment, and later achieved greater school success. Beyond schooling, compared to the noprogram group, the program group committed only half as many crimes, and had higher employment rates and earnings at ages 27 and 40. Taken together, these findings add up to a substantial economic return of $17 per dollar invested, including $13 to taxpayers. The study has served as a model for other studies, and the program has served as a model for other programs. Results of the study have been disseminated widely and have been used to advocate for high-quality early childhood education. See also High/Scope.

Further Readings: Schweinhart, Lawrence J., Jeanne Montie, Zongping Xiang, W. Steven Barnett, Clive R. Belfield, and Milagros Nores (2005). Lifetime effects: The High/Scope Perry Preschool Study through age 40. Monographs of the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, 14. Ypsilanti, MI: High/Scope Press.

Lawrence J. Schweinhart