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Citation:Barnett, W. S., Young, J. W., & Schweinhart, L. J. (1998). How preschool education influences long-term cognitive development and school success. In W. S. Barnett & S. S. Boocock (Eds.), Early care and education for children in poverty: Promises, programs and long-term results. New York: State University of New York Press.

This study used data from the High/Scope Perry Preschool study to explore four alternative theories regarding the reasons for the programÕs effects on participating childrenÕs cognitive and social development. The theories, or models of causal pathways, were tested using structural equation modeling. One of the models was cognitive, focusing on the influence of early support for cognitive development. A second focused on the programÕs initial effects on childrenÕs socialization, a third on the programÕs effects on parents, and a fourth presumed Òno substantive effects on children or parents at allÓ (p. 168). The Perry Preschool program addressed 3- and 4-year-old children from low-income African American families. The program involved daily 2 1/2 hour preschool classes for children and weekly ninety-minute, teacher-conducted home visits with mothers and children during the school year. The curriculum focused on supporting childrenÕs cognitive development through child-centered, individualized instruction. The initial study of the Perry Preschool program was an RCT involving a sample of 128 African American children; all the children had IQs below 90. Achievement measures used in the study included the Stanford-Binet IQ test and California Achievement Tests. Data were collected at childrenÕs entrance to the study, annually through age eleven, and at ages fourteen, fifteen, nineteen, and twenty-seven. Even with the adult sample, attrition was extremely low. However, the sample size is small for use with structural equation modeling. Only the cognitive model was found to be statistically significant. This model suggested that the programÕs immediate effects on childrenÕs cognitive abilities in turn influenced later educational outcomes: ÒEarly achievement gains appeared to set in motion a cycle of lasting improvements in achievement, motivation, and behaviorÓ (p. 180). In contrast, the socialization and parent involvement models were Òstrongly rejectedÓ (p. 176). Data analysis did indicate, however, that mothersÕ participation in their childrenÕs education, mothersÕ academic motivation, and mothersÕ personal behavior also influenced childrenÕs achievement and educational attainment.

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