" And the third category was, c) a combination of the two earlier-mentioned approaches, with "early childhood education services provided in centers supplemented by parental education delivered in the same setting" or through visits by teachers into the homes.
What were the verified benefits of these RAND-surveyed programs? At least one of the following "domains" showed benefits that were demonstrated to be "significant" and/or "sizable"; "cognition and academic achievement"; "emotional and behavioral "competencies"; "educational progression and attainment"; "child maltreatment"; health, delinquency and crime; social welfare programs; and "labor market successes."
The evidence from RAND's research indicated that longer-lasting benefits from high quality preschool opportunities include "substantial gains in outcomes" such as quality special education placement and grade retention; improved high school graduation rates; reduced crime incidents; job success; and also, parents often benefit in their own lives and careers from early intervention programs for their children.
Effective preschool programs also result in high levels of success when the lead teacher has "a college degree" and when the professional making the home visit is a registered nurse, as opposed to a lay person, RAND reports. Programs reflect higher rates of success when they have "smaller child-to-staff ratios," and when sufficient financial resources have been available to sustain the program. That having been said, RAND adds the key point that "many of the benefits from early childhood interventions...can be translated into dollar figures and compared with program costs." Indeed, if the outcomes from these preschool programs improve, "fewer resources may be spend on grade repetition" for failing students, or for special education classes for those who need special help. In other words, being penny-wise might wind up to be a pound-foolish situation; or as the ad for transmission services explains, "Pay me now - or pay me later!"
Indeed, what can (and does) result from improved preschool programs, the RAND study reports, is the fact that participants themselves "benefit from higher lifetime incomes," and other members of the society also gain through "reduced levels of delinquency and crime." Success in adulthood based on high quality early childhood educational experiences may benefit the government "from higher tax revenues and reduced outlays for social welfare programs and the criminal justice system."
The RAND study expresses the success of preschool programs in dollar terms, which everyone (including political leaders and private sources of funding) can relate to; to wit, the returns to society "for each dollar invested" in high quality preschool services range from $1.80 to $17.07. The largest estimates of "net benefits," RAND continues, were discovered in programs with "the longest follow-up," simply because those studies were able to measure the impact "for outcomes that most readily translate into dollar benefits (e.g., employment benefits, crime reduction)." These data serve well to point out "the future promise of investing early in the lives of disadvantaged children," the RAND report concludes.
Preschool Prevention / Intervention: Particularly Vital for 'Challenging Behaviors': An article in the journal Infants and Young Children (Powell, et al., 2006) focuses on the fact that there are models which offer "encouraging signs" that certain "validated practices" in preschool environments "could substantially reduce challenging behaviors." The "challenging behaviors" alluded to in the article - which are exhibited by up to 15% of toddlers and preschoolers - include "fussiness, withdrawal, anxiety, over-activity, disobedience, tantrums, and even aggression." Dealing with these behaviors during the preschool experience, according to Powell, can indeed "enhance the social and emotional well-being" of children as they grow into adulthood. If not dealt with by kindergarten (a study shows that 10% of kindergartners show up with "problematic behavior"), those behaviors could begin to include property destruction, self-injury, physical and verbal aggression on through high school and beyond.
Universal Preschool Initiatives: Senator Edward Kennedy, writing in the American Prospect (Kennedy, 2006), states that "the movement [for universal preschool services] is accelerating in many states because of advances in understanding of how very young children develop, and how profoundly their earliest years affect the rest of their lives." He points out that West Virginia, Oklahoma, New York, Georgia, Florida and Massachusetts have all recently instituted universal preschool services or have set a framework in place for those services. Kennedy writes that if Americans "are serious about improving student achievement, minimizing learning disabilities and emotional disorders," raising the high school graduation rates and making sure young people are ready for the workplace, investing in early education is vital.
Chapter 3 - Methods
Design of the Study: This study should use empirical methodology to determine the best strategies to promote universal and high-quality preschool services; much of this work can be based on the advocacy tactics employed by states that currently offer (or soon will offer) preschool to all children. To accomplish this, it will be pivotal to use reports like "From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development," published by the National Research Council. The report was led by Dr. Jack Shonkoff of Brandeis University, who wrote that "As a nation, we're simply not taking advantage of how much we have learned about early development over the past 40 years." Family life, and work, are "changing dramatically," Shonkoff asserts, "yet children's needs are not being addressed."
Capizzano, Jeffrey, & Main, Regan. (2005). Many Young Children Spend Long Hours in Child
Care. Urban Institute, Retrieved June 5, 2006, at http://www.urban.org/url.cfm?ID=311154.
Hodgkinson, Harold L. (2003). Leaving Too Many Children Behind: A Demographer's View
On the Neglect of America's Youngest Children. The Institute for Educational Leadership,
Retrieved June 5, 2006, at http://www.iel.org.ISBN 0-937846-10-4.
Kennedy, Edward. (2004). Keeping faith with our children: why early-childhood education is the Best investment we can make. The American Prospect, 15(11), A2-4. Retrieved June 5, 2006,
From Expanded Academic ASAP Plus.
RAND LABOR and POPULATION. (2005). Proven Benefits of Early Childhood Interventions:
Research Brief. Retrieved June 5, 2006, at http://www.rand.org.
Powell, Diana, & Dunlap, Glen, & Fox, Lise. (2006). Prevention and intervention for the Challenging behaviors of toddlers and preschoolers. Infants & Young Children, 19(1), 25-36.
Retrieved June 6, 2006, from Expanded Academic ASAP Plus.