Mar 20, 2011

Studies on Effectiveness of Early Childhood Programs

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“Institutionalized messages surrounding ECE claim that it has the potential to promote children’s life-long success, especially among low-income children. I examine the legitimacy of these claims by reviewing empirical evidence that bears on them and find that most are based on results of a small set of impressive but outdated studies. More recent literature reveals positive, short-term effects of ECE programs on children’s development that weaken over time.”  – Lowenstein, Journal of Educational Policy, January 2011 – Emphasis added

“As with the 4-year-old cohort, there was no strong evidence of impacts on children’s language, literacy, or math measures at the end of kindergarten or at the end of 1st grade.” (Head Start Impact Study, Executive Summary, January 15, 2010, p. 21)

“…the achievement impact of preschool appears to diminish during the first four years of school…preschool alone may have limited use as a long-term strategy for improving the achievement gap…”  – Rumberger, et. al, UCSB, 1/06, pp. 79-80

Using data from the (ELCS), researchers concluded that preschool has a positive impact on reading and mathematics scores in the short term and a negative effect on behavior. While the positive academic impacts mostly fade away by the spring of the first grade, the negative effects persist into the later grades.  (Katherine A. Magnuson, Christopher J. Ruhm, Jane Waldfogel, “Does Prekindergarten Improve School Preparation and Performance?” National Bureau of Economic Research, April 2004)

Also using the ECLS data, Lisa Hickman at Ohio University, compared children in center care with children who were taught at home. She found that center care children had higher math and reading skills and poorer social skills prior to kindergarten entry. In first grade, however, preschool participants’ cognitive advantage disappeared and their social skills deteriorated.  (Lisa N. Hickman, “Who Should Care for Our Children? The Effects of Home Versus Center Care on Child Cognition and Social Adjustment,” Journal of Family Issues 27 (May 2006: 652-684)

“Research has reported mixed findings regarding the extent to which the benefits of preschool programs have been sustained in the years following program completion. Many studies of model and large-scale programs have reported that early education interventions have positive initial benefits for children, including increased IQ and improved school achievement. Often, however, the IQ gains of participants erode within a few years—contrary to some of the claims made by early advocates of these programs.” – Minnesota Legislative Auditor, 2001

“‘Fade out’ is important to any discussion of universal preschool because it means that early intervention may be virtually irrelevant to how a child turns out in adolescence or early adulthood.” – Olsen, 1999

“In the long run, cognitive and socioemotional test scores of former Head Start students do not remain superior to those of disadvantaged children who did not attend Head Start.” – Ruth McKey et al., “The Impact of Head Start on Children, Families, and Communities,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, HHS 85-31193, June 1985, Executive Summary, p. 1.

“Once the children enter school there is little difference between the scores of Head Start and control children. . . . Findings for the individual cognitive measures–intelligence, readiness and achievement–reflect the same trends as the global measure. . . . By the end of the second year there are no educationally meaningful differences on any of the measures.”- Ibid. pp. 1-24


“There is a need for greater synergy between advances in neuroscience and the formulation of innovative policies to improve life outcomes for children experiencing significant adversity. Translational developmental neuroscience can inform new theories of change to catalyze more effective interventions that lead to a more productive and healthier society.” – Schonkoff, J Neuroscience and the future of early childhood policy: moving from why to what and how. Neuron. 2010 Sep 9;67(5):689-91.

“The urgent need to close the gap between laboratory neuroscience research and teachers’ practice in their classrooms was a dominant theme. Despite the decade of the brain in the 1990s, and years of educators striving to adopt evidence based practice, it is clear that brain science is not the driving force behind improving education practices. The era of brain-based pedagogy should be supplanted by a richer, interdisciplinary dialogue aimed at understanding and reshaping the study of learning.” – Neuroscience Research in Education Summit: The Promise of Interdisciplinary Partnerships Between Brain Sciences and Education, Society for Neuroscience, University of California, Irvine, June 22-24, 2009 (Emphasis added)

“Assertions that the die has been cast by the time the child enters school are not supported by neuroscience evidence and can create unwarranted pessimism about the potential efficacy of interventions that are initiated after the preschool years.” – Jack Schonkoff and Deborah Phillips, ed., “From Neurons to Neighborhoods:  The Science of Early Childhood Development, National Academy Press”, 2000, p. 216

“For the most part, brain research does not offer clear evidence about the right time to begin programmatic interventions in young children’s lives or the types of care and instruction that should be provided.” – Joel Alter, Judy Randall, and Leah Goldstein, “The Early Childhood Programs”, Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor, report 01-01, January 12, 2001, p. 72

“…it may be useful to question the simplistic view that the brain becomes unbendable and increasingly difficult to modify after the first few years.  Although clearly much of brain development occurs late in gestation through the first few years of postnatal life, the brain is far from set in its trajectory, even at the end of adolescence.” – C.A. Nelson and F.E. Bloom, “Child Development and Neuroscience,” Child Development 68 (5):983, 1997 as quoted in John Bruer, The Myth of the First Three Years, The Free Press division of Simon and Schuster, New York, 1999, p. 23

“What neuroscientists know about synaptogenesis does not support a claim that zero to three is a critical period for humans. … Finally, there is no evidence, or even the suggestion, that specific kinds of learning experiences or early childhood environments influence the rate, duration, or outcome of synaptogenesis and synaptic pruning.” – John Bruer, “Education and the Brain:  A Bridge too Far,” Education Researcher, November, 1997

“But there is already plenty of evidence that the biggest obstacle to learning is the belief that one cannot learn. By encouraging parents and teachers to accept this self-fulfilling prophecy, your story with its imagery of windows of opportunity slamming shut, may well do more to stunt children’s futures than any deficiencies in their early upbringing. So far as we know, it is never too late for a child to get on the path to learning.” – Dr. Seymour Pappert, Lego Professor of Learning Research at MIT, and Dr. Daniel Dennett, Director of the Tufts University Center for Cognitive Studies (Newsweek, 3/11/96, p.15)

“There is quite a mystique in our culture about the importance of early intervention,  [yet] there is no evidence [for it] whatever.” – Sandra Scarr, “Developmental Theories for the 1990s:  Development and Individual Differences,” Child Development 63, no. 1 (February 1992): 1516.



“Students enrolled in the [Georgia] Head Start program consistently tested below the national norm and significantly behind their peers. Students enrolled in the Pre-K program exceeded the national norm by the end of kindergarten but fell slightly below it by the end of first grade. Students who either enrolled in a private preschool program or did not attend an all day four year old program consistently performed at or above the national norm.” (Gary T. Henry, Dana K. Rickman, Bentley D. Ponder, Laura W. Henderson, Andrew Mashburn, Craig S. Gordon, “The Georgia Early Childhood Study 2001-2004 Final Report,” Georgia State University, 2005, p. 59)

3rd in nation in access and quality (National Institute for Early Education Research, p. 4)

4th grade NAEP reading scores have remained below national average over the 15 years that preschool has been universal


In the 2005-2006 school year, the Oklahoma state preschool program that began in 1980 and became universal in 1988, had 33,296 participants and boasted the highest percentage of children in a government preschool program of any state, according to national surveys. Seventy percent of Oklahoma’s four-year-olds are enrolled in the state preschool program, also according to a national survey. In 1992, Oklahoma’s fourth graders scored ahead of the national average in National Assessment of Educational Progress in reading and math. Today average scale scores for Oklahoma fourth graders are behind the national average. Of all the states that took the fourth grade reading test in 1992, Oklahoma is the only one that has seen its scores fall over a 15-year period. (See U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress )

The 2010 graphs from the NAEP organization  showed that 72 percent of Oklahoma fourth graders, when beneficial effects of preschool would be most apparent, are reading below their grade level proficiency. Oklahoma is rated number one in the nation on preschool access and quality by NIEER. Why would Minnesota want to follow the same road for the same dismal results when there is no money?


New Jersey

In 1996, the state began to provide preschool for four-year-olds in low-income school districts. Following the New Jersey Supreme Court decision 1998 Abbott v. Burke, the state has funded full-time, year round pre-kindergarten programs for all three- and four-year-olds in the state’s 31 lowest income school districts. The state funds other public education programs in the Abbott districts as well. Through public schools, private preschools and Head Start centers, the pre-kindergarten program served more than 40,500 children in the 2005-2006 school year.  Yet, according to researcher Lisa Snell, “more New Jersey children score below basic (which means they cannot read) on the NAEP [National Assessment of Educational Progress] fourth-grade reading test in 2005 than in 2003 or 1992…In the case of disadvantaged students who qualify for the free lunch program, 52 percent scored below basic in 1992, 54 percent scored below basic in 2003, and 55 percent scored below basic in 2005 in fourth-grade reading.” (Lisa Snell “Preschool reality check in New Jersey,” The Record, Monday, July 30, 2007, emphasis added)

Head Start

“No statistically significant impacts were found for teacher reports of children‘s school performance in kindergarten and 1st grade with the exception of a lower teacher assessment in kindergarten of Head Start children‘s math ability [3-year-olds].” – Head Start Impact Study, Final Report, Executive Summary, January 2010, pg. 21


“Head Start is not fully achieving its stated purpose  of promoting school readiness … Indeed, these low-income children continue to perform significantly below their more advantaged peers in reading and mathematics once they enter school.”  – “Strengthening Head Start: What the Evidence Shows” – US Dept. of HHS, June 2003

“The body of research on current Head Start is insufficient to draw conclusions about the impact of the national program.” –“Head Start,” GAO review of over 600 citations, manuscripts, and studies, 1997

” In the long run, cognitive and socioemotional test scores of former Head Start students do not remain superior to those of disadvantaged children who did not attend Head Start.”  US Dept. of HHS, 1985


“Perry children may have outperformed children in the control group, but they still fared poorly compared with mainstream children”:

1/3 of Perry children dropped out of high school

Nearly 1/3 of Perry children were arrested

60% of Perry children received welfare assistance as adults

Darcy Olsen, President of the Goldwater Institute, Assessing Proposals for Preschool and Kindergarten: Essential Information for Parents, Taxpayers and Policymakers, 2/8/05 at

[The Perry sample] was not only nonrepresentative of children in general; there is some doubt that it was representative of even the bulk of economically disadvantaged children. . . . The Perry Project poses a number of methodological difficulties. . . . Children had to have a parent at home during the day, resulting in a significant difference between control and intervention groups on the variable of maternal employment . . .[and] assignment to experimental and control groups was not wholly random. – Ziglar, pp.30-31 as quoted in Darcy Olsen, entitlements policy analyst for the Cato Institute, UNIVERSAL PRESCHOOL IS NO GOLDEN TICKET: Why Government Should Not Enter the Preschool Business, 2/9/99, p. 13

“We might marry the large number of nonsignificant and unfavorable findings into a different picture of the Perry Project’s outcomes. We might argue that preschool training resulted in no differences in school motivation or school potential at the time of school entry, no lasting changes in IQ or achievement test performance. . . . There were no differences in their average grades as compared to former control-group children, in their personal satisfaction with their school performance or in their self-esteem. Their parents were no more likely to talk with teachers about schoolwork or to attend school activities and functions than control-group parents.  Preschool children were more likely to have been placed in remedial education. By age 19, they were unemployed at a rate equal to that of their control-group counterparts.” – Charles Locurto, “Beyond IQ in Preschool Programs?” Intelligence 15 (1991): pp. 303-4 as quoted in Olsen, 1999, pp. 12-13

“First, in more than 40 years, no other program or study has produced results as dramatic as those found for Perry. (Ron Haskins, ‘Beyond Metaphor: The Efficacy of Early Childhood Education,’ American Psychologist 44, no 2 [February 1989: 279).  That suggests that there may have been unique conditions at the Perry Preschool that simply cannot be duplicated…. Second, benefits were obtained only for severely disadvantaged children at risk of “retarded intellectual functioning”; it is simply inappropriate to generalize the effects of Perry to all children… Third, Perry children may have outperformed children in the control group, but they still fared poorly compared with mainstream children. For example, nearly one-third of participating children dropped out of high school, nearly one-third of the children were arrested, and three of five participating children received welfare assistance as adults.67 That has led many researchers to be more level-headed about the likely effects of early intervention: ‘Policymakers should not assume that the widespread enrollment of low-income children and families in early childhood programs will enable children living in poverty to perform later in school and life at the levels reached by more advantaged [mainstream] children.’ (Deanna S. Gomby et al., “Long-Term Outcomes of Early Childhood Programs: Analysis and Recommendations,” in The Future of Children 5, no. 3 (Winter 1995): 14.)”…. Finally, Perry differed significantly from regular preschool programs or what we could expect to see in universal preschool programs. According to Zigler, ‘It is very unlikely that a preschool program mounted in the typical public school will be of the quality represented by the Perry Preschool Project.’” – Olsen, 1999, pp. 13-14


“It is possible that parental involvement explains more of the variance in outcome among inner-city children than do structured programs. . . . If policy makers mistakenly accept the conclusion that preschool intervention results in less criminal activity later, they may mistakenly invest in these programs when the money might be better invested in parenting skill programs and other interventions to increase parental involvement.” – Mathew D. Thompson, “Early Childhood Educational Intervention and Long-Term Developmental Outcomes,” Letters, The Journal of American Medical Association, Vol. 286, No. 15, October 17, 2001.


The Abecedarian Project has received a fair share of criticism, most notably from Herman H. Spitz, former director of the Research Department at the E. R. Johnstone Training and Research Center in Bordentown, New Jersey…Spitz was concerned that the project personnel presented certain results in ways that bias the findings in favor of Abecedarian. For example, by combining the IQ findings of the four cohorts studied, the researchers concluded that the intervention raised IQ. However, they neglected to report that scores improved only for two of the four groups. In fact, for the third and fourth cohorts, the experimental group actually lost 3.68 IQ points more than did the control group, providing no support for the efficacy of the intervention. (Spitz, “Does the Carolina Abecedarian Early Intervention Project Prevent Sociocultural Mental Retardation? pp. 228–29). – Olsen, 1999, pp. 15-16

“For these children, a 4.6–point improvement was approximately a 5 percent increase in measured intelligence, an increase hardly noticeable in the classroom or on the job.” – John Bruer, president, James S. McDonnell Neurosciences Institute, The Myth of the First Three Years, The Free Press, New York, 1999, p. 165

“On the other hand, in their statistical analyses [of Abecedarian], Ramey and Campbell also found that the mother’s IQ was a more powerful factor in explaining a child’s performance than was participation in the program.” – Bruer, p. 166

“In the Abecedarian Project, children in the preschool program had IQs 4 to 5 points higher than the children in the control group at ages 12 to 15.  Nonetheless, the early enrichment did not result in these children reaching IQ levels comparable to middle-class children in the community, nor did they reach the national average IQ of 100.” – Bruer, p. 171


MIT and University of California at Berkley

Two forthcoming studies in the journal Cognition show the extent to which direct, teacher-initiated learning can limit and dampen children’s creativity and curiosity.”  – Tang, The Daily Beast, 4/5/11

National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD – 2007)

A 2007 study funded by the NICHD tracked 1,364 children who had participated in early childhood education. Preschool participants were more likely to score higher on factors of aggression and disobedience as reported by their teachers. This finding was true even for children who attended high quality center-based care. The more time a child spent in center-based care the more likely he or she was to be described by sixth grade teachers as one who “gets in many fights,” is “disobedient at school,” and “argues a lot.”

University of Quebec

“Several measures we looked at suggest that children were worse off in the years following the introduction of the universal childcare program. We studied a wide range of measures of child well-being from anxiety and hyperactivity to social and motor skills. For almost every measure, we find that the increased use of childcare was associated with a decrease in their well-being relative to other children. For example, reported fighting and aggressive behavior increased substantially.” (Michael Baker, Jonathan Gruber, and Kevin Milligan, What Can We Learn from Quebec’s Universal Childcare Program?, (C.D. Howe Institute, February 2006).

National Institutes of Child Health & Human Development 

A 2002 study NICHD followed a group of more than 1,300 children in 10 different states through their first seven years of life and found that children who spend more hours per week in non-parental childcare have more behavior problems, including aggressive, defiant and disobedient behavior in kindergarten.

University of California at Berkley and Stanford University

“Attendance in preschool centers, even for short periods of time each week, hinders the rate at which young children develop social skills and display the motivation to engage classroom tasks, as reported by their kindergarten teachers…Our findings are consistent with the negative effect of non-parental care on the single dimension of social development first detected by the NICHD research team [in 2002].”- Fuller, et. al. 11/05  (This references the study immediately above.)]

Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (ELCS)

Using data from the (ELCS), researchers concluded that preschool has a positive impact on reading and mathematics scores in the short term and a negative effect on behavior. While the positive academic impacts mostly fade away by the spring of the first grade, the negative effects persist into the later grades.  (Katherine A. Magnuson, Christopher J. Ruhm, Jane Waldfogel, “Does Prekindergarten Improve School Preparation and Performance?” National Bureau of Economic Research, April 2004)

Also using the ECLS data, Lisa Hickman at Ohio University, compared children in center care with children who were taught at home. “However, employing longitudinal analysis that controls for fall test scores of kindergartners and first graders shows that the cognitive effects of center care do not persist and that some social skills actually deteriorate.”  (Lisa N. Hickman, “Who Should Care for Our Children? The Effects of Home Versus Center Care on Child Cognition and Social Adjustment,” Journal of Family Issues 27 (May 2006: 652-684)


A 1985 study found negative behavior impacts among participants of the Abecedarian Project, a program held up as a model intervention. Haskins investigated this aspect of the Abecedarian Project. He found treatment children were “more aggressive than children in the control group” in elementary school. (Ron Haskins, “Public School Aggression among Children with Varying Day-Care Experiences,” Child Development, Vol., 56, No. 3,  June 1985, p. 695.)

Head Start

Other researchers have found negative impacts on social-emotional development among Head Start participants. In this case, participants had lower mean scores in communication, daily living skills, and social skills domains, and the total adaptive behavior score. (Yvonne B. Reedy, “A Comparison of Long Range Effects of Participation in Project Head Start and Impact of Three Differing Delivery Models,” Pennsylvania State University (State College, Penn.: 1991).


“There is no evidence that such early instruction has lasting benefits, and considerable evidence that it can do lasting harm…If we do not wake up to the potential danger of these harmful practices, we may do serious damage to a large segment of the next generation…” (David Elkind, Miseducation: Preschoolers at Risk (New York: Knopf, 1997): 4, as quoted in Olsen, 2005).

“There is a large body of evidence indicating that there is little if anything to be gained by exposing middleclass children to early education… Those who argue in favor of universal preschool education ignore evidence that indicates early schooling is inappropriate for many four-year olds and that it may even be harmful to their development.” (Edward Ziglar, co-founder of Head Start and director of the Bush Center in Child Development and Social Policy at Yale University, Formal Schooling for Four-Year-Olds? No” in Early Schooling: the National Debate, ed. Sharon L. Kagan and Edward F. Zigler (New Haven, Conn.:Yale University Press, 1987, as quoted in Olsen, 2005)


“For the average child, these stable, reliable, tension-relieving inner images [of parents] are not in place much before 36 or 45 months of age…In the meantime, the child will be prone to feelings of abandonment, accompanied by some degree of anxiety or even panic, when the parents are not available and the inner images he has of them cannot be summoned up…The stability and availability of the child’s inner parent images make an indispensable contribution to the child’s self-image.”- Donald Rinsley, MD as quoted in Who Will Rock the Cradle? (Eagle Forum Education and Legal Defense Fund, 1989), p. 46

“But evidence suggests that the mother-infant bond…is unique and cannot be fully substituted for by even the most sensitive and caring surrogate mother figures.  Much less can it be substituted for by even the best-trained day caretakers, who also may be responsible for several or more other outplaced children who make time consuming and often enervating demands.”- Donald Rinsley, MD as quoted in Who Will Rock the Cradle? (Eagle Forum Education and Legal Defense Fund, 1989), p. 47

“Since the 1960’s a vast body of research has stressed the importance to the developing child of the physical presence and emotional accessibility of both parents.  …the loss of a parent through death, divorce, illness, or a time demanding job contributes to many forms of emotional disorder, especially the anger, the low self esteem, and the depression that accompany adolescent suicide.” – Armand  Nicholi, MD, The Harvard Guide to Psychiatry, 3rd edition, Belknap/Harvard Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1999, p. 623

This last quote ties in quite well to the studies showing the enormous increase in the prescription rates of antidepressants and stimulants for preschool aged children.  These include the Journal of the American Medical Association study showing the prescription of psychotropic drugs, particularly Ritalin, for 2 to 4 year old children, increased 300% between 1991 and 1995. (Zito, J., et al. (2/23/00) Trends in the prescribing of psychotropic medications to preschoolers. Journal of the American Medical Association, 283:1025-1030) A study published in January 2003 in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine by the same author found a 300% increase in psychotropic drug use in children between 1987 and 1996, that 6% of ALL children in the study were on psychiatric medications, and a sharp rise in use of antipsychotic in poor children.  The latter finding led the author to theorize that medications were being used as a social control tool in low-income populations.  (Zito, J., et al, (1/13/03) Psychotropic Practice Patterns for Youth A 10-Year Perspective. Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, 157:17-25)

“Most out of home child care cannot provide a number of [these] essential building blocks…We need to gradually bring about social arrangements that maximize at home care of young infants by their parents.” – Stanley Greenspan, MD, professor of pediatrics and psychiatry and speaker for Clinton White House Conference on Early Childhood, George Washington University School of Medicine


“General pediatricians don’t have to be behavioral health specialists, but they can still intervene.  Psychopharmacology is on the horizon as preventive therapy for children with genetic susceptibility to mental health problems.” – (Emphasis added.) David W. Willis, M.D., Medical Director of the Northwest Early Childhood Institute in Portland, Oregon, as quoted in Pediatric News, January, 2004

Increase in Child Psychiatric Labeling and Drugging

The number of antipsychotic prescriptions for children doubled to 4.4 million between 2003 and 2006, with 20,280 prescriptions written for kids aged 4 and younger, a five-fold increase over 2003. (Waters – Bloomberg News 9/5/07)

More spent on psych drugs in 2003 for kids than on antibiotics or asthma meds (Medco Trends 2004)

300% increase in psychotropic drug use in 2-4 year old children between 1991-1995 (JAMA 2000)

40 fold increase in bipolar treatment for kids between 1994 and 2003 (Arch. Gen. Psych 2007)















Vague Criteria and Lack of Expert Consensus

National Center for Infant and Early Childhood Health Policy – Addressing Social Emotional Development and Infant Mental Health in Early Childhood Systems, 1/05

“Diagnostic classifications for infancy are still being developed and validated…”

“Lack of longitudinal outcome studies”

“Broad parameters for determining socioemotional outcomes are not clearly defined”

Dr. Benedetto Vitiello, chairman of child and adolescent psychiatry at the National Institutes of Mental Health, “Little research has been conducted to study the effectiveness of psychosocial interventions in young children, and the long-term risk-benefit ratio of psychosocial and pharmacologic treatments is basically unknown.” – (Pediatrics, 2001)


“No large-scale studies have examined the effects of Minnesota’s Head Start program on its participants.” – Joel Alter, Judy Randall, and Leah Goldstein, The Early Childhood Programs, Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor, report 01-01, January 12, 2001, p.  13 of pdf

“Evaluations of the School Readiness Program have not provided definitive evidence of its effects.  The department has sometimes declared that School Readiness has a positive impact without acknowledging other possible explanations for the results of its evaluations.” – Ibid. , p. 12 of pdf

Studies of two-generation programs have generally found small or no effects on child development, although many have reported some positive impact on parenting skills.  Researchers at Abt Associates reviewed six “premier” two-generation programs and reported few measurable impacts on children. – Ibid.,  p. 6 of pdf


According to the U.S. Department of Education Study “America’s Kindergartners,” (NCES 2000-070, February, 2000), 94% are proficient at recognizing numbers, shapes, and counting to ten, 92% are eager to learn and 97% are in good health

“It’s also in the early years when American students are most competitive internationally. Consider France, England, Denmark, Spain and Belgium where more than 90 percent of 4-year-olds attend public preschools. International tests show that by age 9, when the benefits of preschool should be most apparent, American children outscore nearly all of their universally preschooled peers on tests of reading, math, and science.” – National Center of Education Statistics, “Elementary and Secondary Education: An International Perspective,” Department of Education, March, 2000, pp. 50-56 as quoted by Olsen, Cato Institute, in Human Events, 9/1/2000































[All three above charts quoted from Darcy Olsen, President of the Goldwater Institute, Assessing Proposals for Preschool and Kindergarten: Essential Information for Parents, Taxpayers and Policymakers, 2/8/05

“In other words, preschool conferred no apparent gains on participating children. Reports also show that GKAP scores are essentially the same as they were before the adoption of universal preschool. Georgia State School Superintendent Linda Schrenko expressed the state’s disappointment, saying, ‘The only message you can get from it is that our kindergarten non-ready rate is the same, regardless of what we do.’”  –  James Salzer, “School Readiness the Same for Tots; Results Unchanged Despite Pre-K,” The Florida Times-Union, November 1, 1999.


“There were no statistically significant program effects for the nurses on women’s use of ancillary prenatal services, educational achievement, use of welfare, or their children’s temperament or behavior problems.” (Olds and Robinson, 2002)

“There were no program effects on preterm delivery or low birth weight; children’s immunization rates, mental development, or behavioral problems; or mothers’ education and employment.” (Kitzman and Olds, 1997)

“It is important to note, however, that the reduction in total behavioral problems on the CBCL [Child Behavior Checklist completed by the mothers] was not corroborated by teachers’ reports of child behavior.” (Olds and Kitzman, 2004)

“There were no statistically significant nurse effects on sensitive-responsive mother-child interaction, children’s emotional regulation, or externalizing behavior problems [nurse visited].” (Olds and Robinson, 2004)



“When should environmental education begin-in the third grade; first grade; kindergarten? Even earlier. Environmental education based on life experiences should begin during the very earliest years of life. Such experiences play a critical role in shaping life-long attitudes, values, and patterns of behavior toward natural environments (Tilbury, 1994; Wilson, 1994 as quoted in Wilson, Clearinghouse for Science, Mathematics, and Environmental Education, June 2003)

Reorienting existing education programs. Rethinking and revising education from nursery school through university to include more principles, knowledge, skills, perspectives and values related to sustainability in each of the three realms – social, environmental, and economic – is important to our current and future societies.- (UNESCO Framework for Decade on Education for Sustainable Development, 9/5/03 – Emphasis added.)

Gender Identity:

What is gender identity? Why should it to be taught to three and four year old children? How it will close the achievement gap for poor and minority children?  The curriculum Making Room in the Circle: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Families in Early Childhood Settings defines gender identity:

“Refers to a person’s internal, deeply felt sense of being either male or female, or something other or in between. Because gender identity is internal and personally defined, it is not visible to others.”  (Emphasis added.)

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAYEC), whose accreditation results in both more Minnesota state funding for childcare programs and gains a higher rating in the Parent Aware quality rating system, promotes these types of “gender anatomy and gender identity” exercises in its curriculum:

“Make copies of an outline of a body as drawn by a preschooler, and in small groups ask children to fill in all the body parts, and to show if the person is a girl or boy.” (Derman-Sparks, L. (1989). Anti-bias curriculum: Tools for empowering young children. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children, p. 53)

Have anatomically correct dolls available…For example, tell a persona doll story where a few of the dolls ask questions about what makes them a boy or a girl” (Ibid.)

Other Non-Academic Curriculum:

National Association for the Education of Young (NAEYC) certification required for all Head Start centers with more than twenty children. NAEYC created the Council for Professional Recognition, which grants the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential for childcare workers.  The CDA is supported by TEACH.  TEACH started in North Carolina and stands for Teacher Education and Compensation Helps.  The program gives wage supports and scholarships to childcare workers so that they can obtain the CDA.  The CDA and NAEYC ‘s childcare and preschool accreditation policy requires use of NAEYC’s radical anti-bias curriculum.

Anti-bias Curriculum – Tools for Empowering Young Children (Derman-Sparkes, NAEYC, Washington, D.C., 1989)



Definition of “Whites: All the different national ethnic groups of European origin who as a group are disproportionately represented in the control of the economic, political, and cultural institutions in the United States.” (p. 3)


“Kay sets up…a ‘witch-healer’ table, where the children can make their own potions.” (p. 9)

Revisionist History:

“And if the hypothetical Indians who participated in that hypothetical feast thought all was well and were thankful in the expectation of a peaceful future, they were sadly mistaken.” (pp. 87-88)


Definition of “Homophobia: A fear and hatred of gay men and lesbians backed up by institutional policies and power that discriminate against them.” (p. 3)




Sexual Identity:

“…the purpose of these activities is to enable preschoolers to develop a clear, healthy sex identity through understanding that their being a girl or boy depends on their anatomy, not on what they like to do.” (p. 53)

“Make copies of an outline of a body as drawn by a preschooler, and in small groups, ask children to fill in all the body parts, and to show if the person is a girl or boy.” (p. 53)

Activism with Young Children:

“Young children have an impressive capacity for learning how to be activists if adults provide activities that are relevant and developmentally appropriate.” (;. 77)

“Instead of one superhuman figure (usually a white male) righting wrongs all by himself, activism activities teach that real people, adults and children, make life better by working together.” (p. 79)

That chapter on activism inspired an entire book called That’s not Fair! – A Teacher’s Guide to Activism with Young Children, which is also distributed by NAEYC. (Pelo and Davidson, Redleaf Press, St. Paul, MN, 2000)

One part of the curriculum describes a teacher reading books to the children in order to “bring up big issues, issues that provoke debate, discussion, and often, activism project.”  The book goes on to describe the teacher’s reading of a book called the Trumpet of the Swan and how she uses it to deal with the issue of homosexuality. (p. 50-51)

“The second part of the book focuses on the swan’s courtship and mating.  When Ann reads the book, she changes the gender of the main character from a male to a female swan.  When the main character is a female, her courtship of another female swan becomes the story of two women falling in love.  This invariably provokes conversation among the children about women marrying women and men marrying men.  It’s important to Ann that children feel comfortable around people who are lesbian and gay.  She wants children to expect to meet people who are lesbian and gay and to feel relaxed and at ease with them.  When Ann reads this book, the kids already care about Louise the swan by the time she begins to court Serina, her true love.  They can’t easily dismiss her or ignore her, because they are invested in her life and her happiness.”

Another part of the book describes what happens when a teacher is out on a walk with the children and sees the Blue Angels preparing for an air show.  She tells the children that they are bombing planes and then has them return to school and write their feelings regarding what they saw.  Here is a sample of what they wrote (p. 106):

“They drew pictures of planes with Xs through them: ‘This is a crossed off bombing plane.’ They drew bomb factories labeled ‘No.’  Ann wrote down their messages: ‘Blue Angels stop.’  ‘Respect our words Blue Angels.  Respect kids’ words.  Don’t kill people.”  ‘This is a book to tell you, ‘Stop Blue Angels.  Don’t kill anyone.’  ‘If you blow up our city, we won’t be happy about it.  And our whole city will be destroyed.  And if you blow up my favorite library, I won’t be happy because there are some good books there I haven’t read yet.’”


1. The Effects of Black and Hispanic 12th Graders Living in Intact Families and Being Religious on Their Academic Achievement. (EJ663866)

Author(s): Jeynes, William H.
Source: Urban Education, v38 n1 p35-57 Jan 2003


Pub Date: 2003-00-00
Pub Type(s): Journal Articles; Reports – Research
Peer-Reviewed: N

Used data from the National Educational Longitudinal Survey to examine the impact of student religious commitment and living in intact families on academic achievement among black and Hispanic 12th graders. Students with intact families and high levels of religiosity scored as well as all white students on most achievement measures and higher than their black and Hispanic counterparts without intact families or high religiosity. (Contains references.) (SM)


2. The Relationship between Parental Involvement and Urban Secondary School Student Academic Achievement: A Meta-Analysis (EJ748034)

Author(s): Jeynes, William H.
Source: Urban Education, v42 n1 p82-110 2007


Pub Date: 2007-00-00
Pub Type(s): Journal Articles; Reports – Evaluative



A meta-analysis is undertaken, including 52 studies, to determine the influence of parental involvement on the educational outcomes of urban secondary school children. Statistical analyses are done to determine the overall impact of parental involvement as well as specific components of parental involvement. Four different measures of educational outcomes are used. These measures include an overall measure of all components of academic achievement combined, grades, standardized tests, and other measures that generally included teacher rating scales and indices of academic attitudes and behaviors. The possible differing effects of parental involvement by race and socioeconomic status are also examined. The results indicate that the influence of parental involvement overall is significant for secondary school children. Parental involvement as a whole affects all the academic variables under study by about 0.5 to 0.55 of a standard deviation unit. The positive effects of parental involvement hold for both White and minority children. (Contains 6 tables.) Note:The following two links are not-applicable for text-based browsers or screen-reading software.

3. A Meta-Analysis of the Relationship between Phonics Instruction and Minority Elementary School Student Academic Achievement (EJ781141)

Author(s): Jeynes, William H.
Source: Education and Urban Society, v40 n2 p151-166 2008


Pub Date: 2008-00-00
Pub Type(s): Journal Articles; Reports – Evaluative
Peer-Reviewed: Yes


This meta-analysis of 22 studies examines the relationship between phonics and the academic achievement of urban minority elementary school children. Further analyses distinguish between those studies that are of higher quality than the others and those studies that examine all minority students and mostly minority students. Results indicate a significant relationship between phonics instruction and higher academic achievement. Phonics instruction, as a whole, is associated with academic variables by about 0.23 to 0.33 of a standard deviation unit. This relationship holds for studies that examine all minority students and those that include mostly minority students. The results also hold for higher quality studies. The significance of these results is discussed. (Contains 4 tables.)

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