Aug 02, 2012


The High/Scope Perry Preschool, initiated in 1962, is a high quality one- to two-year-long program with a home-visiting component. The program is designed to promote social and cognitive development in at-risk children. Results in 1986 showed that the High/Scope students had more positive behavior and attitudes than the control group. Experimental evaluations show that even years later, when study participants are in their teens and 20s, former High/Scope Perry Preschool students had higher academic grades and earnings, higher rates of high school graduation, fewer arrests and out-of-wedlock births, and lower levels of welfare receipt than their peers who were not in a preschool program. At age 27, High/Scope Perry Preschool students were more likely to be employed and had higher earnings than the control group.


Target population: Three- and four-year-old African-American children living in poverty.

The High/Scope Perry Preschool was designed in order to promote cognitive and social development in at-risk children. Children attended class for two and a half hours every weekday from October through May for one or two years. The program encouraged active learning among children by allowing them to initiate activities and control their environment. Teachers received curriculum training and supervision and worked with small groups of five or six students (Schweinhart & Weikart, 1993). Children learned in an environment rich with materials and then reported back to their teachers on what they had achieved. Teachers encouraged children’s experiences in the areas of initiative, social relations, creative representation, music and movement, language and literacy, and logic and mathematics. The program also included weekly one and half hour long home visits by teachers in order to discuss and practice activities for parents to carry out with their children.

Training for organizations interested in implementing the program has three steps. For the first step, materials cost $850; ten days of training costs $2,020 for each person. For the second step, materials cost $500, and six days of training costs $1,140 for each person. For the third step, materials cost $900, and six days of training cost $940 for each person. Start-up costs for equipment and supplies for a classroom are about $1,500 for each student.


Schweinhart, L. J., Barnes, H. V., & Weikart, D. P. (1993). Significant benefits: The High/Scope Perry Preschool study through age 27. Monograph of the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, 10. Ypsilanti, MI: High/Scope Press.

Evaluated population: One hundred twenty-three African American children, ages three and four, who were living in poverty in Ypsilanti, Michigan served as the sample.

Approach: The children were randomly assigned to either High/Scope Perry Preschool (program group) or no preschool (no-program group).

Data were collected on program and no-program participants every year between ages three and 11, and then at ages 14-15, 19 and 27. Data were collected from multiple sources, including direct assessments, school records, parent and teacher interviews and interviews with participants themselves, at older ages. Attrition rates were extremely low; at the latest assessment, information was gathered from 95 percent of the original participants.

Results: The program group performed significantly better than the no-program group on the Stanford-Binet IQ test at ages five, six, and seven (but differences in IQ scores were not found at later assessments). On the California Achievement Tests, the program group significantly outscored the no-program group on reading, math, language and total achievement at age 14. (Differences were found starting at age seven, but they generally did not reach significance until age 14.) In addition, program participants had a significantly higher mean high school GPA than the no-program group. In the areas of crime and delinquency, by age 19, the program group had significantly fewer arrests than the no-program group.

At age 27, data were gathered through interviews, data from schools, social services and arrest records. Program participants had higher rates of high school graduation, higher weekly earnings, higher percentages of home ownership, lower rates of receipt of welfare assistance as adults, fewer out of wedlock births and fewer arrests. All of these findings were significant. It should be noted that the pattern of results was different for females and males. For females, the program seemed to affect their desire and ability to remain in school and graduate. For males, the program seemed to affect their adjustment to society-they engaged in less criminal and antisocial behavior.

A cost-benefit analysis was also conducted at age 27. In 1992 dollars, the estimated cost of participation in the Perry preschool program per child was $12,356. The total benefit (including that which was estimated to have accrued through age 27 and the projected continuing effects) was $88,433 per program participant.

Schweinhart, L. J., Weikart, D. P., & & Larner, M. B. (1986). Consequences of Three Preschool Curriculum Models through Age 15. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 1(1), 15-45.

Evaluated Population: Sixty-eight children from Ypsilanti, Michigan were evaluated. The children turned three years old between 1967 and 1969. The children came from families with incomes near or below the poverty level.  Fifty-four percent of the children were female, sixty-five percent were Black, and the average IQ score was 78.3 at entry. Thirty-eight percent of mothers were employed, and, of families with fathers present, 98 percent of fathers were employed.

Approach: There were three treatment conditions and a control condition. The three treatment conditions were the Distar preschool program, the High/Scope preschool program, and the Nursery school condition. The control group was made up of a sample of children from the community with no preschool experience.

IQ was collected until age 10, and achievement was collected at ages seven and eight.  At the next round of data collection, age 15, information on delinquency, family relations, social activities, school behavior, school attitudes, mental health, employment, and financial affairs was collected. The respondents also filled out information on how prepared they are for success in modern society, a survey called the Adult Performance Level Survey (APLS). It covers common facts and terms, reading, writing, computation, and problem solving. There were also five content areas: community resources, occupational knowledge, consumer economics, health, and government and law.

Seventy-nine percent of children in the program sample were retained through age 15.

Results: Children in the preschool condition (the three treatment conditions combined) had significantly higher IQs at ages four, five, six, seven, and ten, but there were non-significant differences at ages three and eight. There were significant differences in mean IQs between preschool conditions for one out of seven evaluated years.

There were no significant differences between preschool conditions in achievement at ages seven or eight.

There was a significant difference in functional competence at age 15 (measured by the APLS) in one content area: occupational knowledge. One of the treatment conditions was significantly different from another treatment condition. The mean of Distar was lower than the means for High/Scope and Nursery School, which were both equal. In addition, the three treatment groups scored marginally differently in writing, but no other skills.

Overall delinquency reported at age 15 was significantly different between the preschool conditions. There was a significant difference among the three treatment conditions for the property damage subscale, the status offenses subscale (fighting with parents, running away, trespassing), and running away from home. The Distar group had the highest mean of all four reports of delinquency. Meanwhile, adolescents who had been in the High/Scope and Nursery School conditions had similar levels of delinquency. There were no significant differences between the groups on the personal violence or stealing subscales.  A marginally significant difference between groups was found on the drug abuse subscale and committing arson, part of the property damage subscale.

For social behavior and attitudes, there were significant differences between the treatment conditions on three items: “How does your family feel about how you’re doing….. great;” participating in sports often: and having been appointed to an office or job at school. No participants in the Distar treatment group reported their family feeling “great” about how they are doing, while six percent of the High/Scope and Nursery School groups reported their family feeling “great.” Half of the High Scope group reported playing sports often, while 44 percent of the Nursery School group and 17 percent of the Distar group reported doing so. One third of the Nursery School group reported having been appointed to an office or job in school, compared with 12 percent of the High/Scope group did, and zero percent of the Distar group. There were no significant differences between the preschool groups on getting along with one’s family, contributing to household expenses, volunteer work participation, any other school behaviors and attitudes, or mental health. There was a moderately significant relationship between preschool groups and reading.



Schweinhart, L. J., Barnes, H. V., & Weikart, D. P. (1993). Significant benefits: The High/Scope Perry Preschool study through age 27. Monograph of the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, 10. Ypsilanti, MI: High/Scope Press.

Schweinhart, L. J., Weikart, D. P., & Larner, M. B. (1986). Consequences of Three Preschool Curriculum Models through Age 15. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 1(1), 15-45.


KEYWORDS: Toddlers (12-36 months), Children (3-11), Males and Females (Co-ed), High-Risk, Black/African American, School-based, Parent or Family Component, Home Visitation, Early Childhood Education, Other Mental Health, Reading/Literacy, Academic Achievement/Grades, College Enrollment/Preparation, High School Completion/Dropout, Other Education, Employment/Earnings, Public Assistance, Community Service, Self-Esteem/Self-Concept, Marijuana/Illicit/Prescription Drugs, Parent-Child Relationship, Delinquency (e.g., truancy, vandalism, theft, assault, etc.), Cost Information is Available

Program information last updated 08/2/12.