Consequences of Three Preschool Curriculum Models through Age 15

This report of the High/Scope Preschool Curriculum study traces the effects on young people through age 15 of three well-implemented preschool curriculum models—the High/Scope [play based instruction] model, the Distar [direct teacher led instruction] model, and a model in the nursery school tradition. Sixty-eight impoverished children in Ypsilanti, Michigan were randomly assigned to these three programs, attending them at ages 3 and 4. Fifty-four of the youngsters (79% of the original sample were interviewed at age 15. The mean IQ of the children who had attended these three high-quality preschool programs rose a dramatic 27 points during the first year of the program, from 78 to 105 (on the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale) and at age 10 was 92 (on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, or WISC). The three preschool curriculum groups differed little in their patterns of IQ and school achievement over time. According to self-reports at age 15, the group that had attended the Distar preschool program engaged in twice as many delinquent acts as did the other two curriculum groups, including five times as many acts of property violence. The Distar group also reported relatively poor relations with their families, less participation in sports, fewer school job appointments, and less reaching out to others for help with personal problems. These findings, based on one study with a small sample, are by no means definitive; but they do suggest possible consequences of preschool curriculum models that ought to be considered.

This report of the High/Scope Preschool Curriculum study traces the effects on young people through age 15 of three well-implemented preschool curriculum models—the High/Scope [play based instruction] model, the Distar [direct teacher led instruction] model, and a model in the nursery school tradition. Sixty-eight impoverished children in Ypsilanti, Michigan were randomly assigned to these three programs, attending them at ages 3 and 4. Fifty-four of the youngsters (79% of the original sample were interviewed at age 15. The mean IQ of the children who had attended these three high-quality preschool programs rose a dramatic 27 points during the first year of the program, from 78 to 105 (on the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale) and at age 10 was 92 (on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, or WISC). The three preschool curriculum groups differed little in their patterns of IQ and school achievement over time. According to self-reports at age 15, the group that had attended the Distar preschool program engaged in twice as many delinquent acts as did the other two curriculum groups, including five times as many acts of property violence. The Distar group also reported relatively poor relations with their families, less participation in sports, fewer school job appointments, and less reaching out to others for help with personal problems. These findings, based on one study with a small sample, are by no means definitive; but they do suggest possible consequences of preschool curriculum models that ought to be considered.

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