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Citation:Campbell, F. A., Ramey, C. T., Pungello, E., Sparling, J., & Miller-Johnson, S. (2002). Early childhood education: Young adult outcomes from the Abecedarian Project. Applied Developmental Science, 6(1), 142-157.

This is a longitudinal follow-up study that explores long-term academic outcomes among participants in the Abecedarian project, a program of intensive early childhood education for children from low-income families that was implemented in the 1970s. The Abecedarian program provided full-time child care and education for children as young as six weeks of age and continuing through preschool. There was also a program phase for school-aged children; the school-age phase of the child-care program lasted through second grade. Although the programÕs primary focus was on children, there were also parent involvement and support activities. Parents were invited to visit the classroom and to serve on a center advisory board; they were also offered an optional series of programs focused on parenting skills, nutrition, and health. Emergency social services were available to families in both the treatment and control groups. Findings from the initial study demonstrated that, after three years in school, children who participated in the preschool program scored significantly higher on standardized tests of reading and math. Results of this follow-up study further confirmed that the preschool intervention remained a significant predictor of childrenÕs academic outcomes. The authors reported that participants in the preschool treatment group scored significantly higher on intellectual and academic measures as young adults, attained more years of total education, were more likely to attend a 4-year college, and had lower rates of teenaged pregnancy. In addition, Òpreschool treatment was associated with educationally meaningful effect sizes on reading and math skills that persisted into adulthoodÓ (p. 42). However, there were no significant academic effects associated with the school-age phase alone. The overall study design was a randomized controlled trial; the initial study sample consisted of 111 children, 98 percent of whom were African American. Attrition rates in the follow-up study were extremely low, with 104 participants included in this follow-up study. The results associated with the preschool treatment group support the development of early education policies for low SES children. However, the authors note that aspects of childrenÕs home environment, especially in the preschool years, were also strongly associated with childrenÕs academic outcomes.

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