Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Early Childhood Program Is Effective, Study Reveals

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Early Childhood Program Is Effective, Study Reveals

Article excerpt

Third-graders who participated in the Parkway School District's Early Childhood Program scored higher on achievement tests than their fellow third-graders, a district study says.

The study may be the first in the nation to show the effects of early childhood education through the third grade, according to Board President Joy Rouse. Rouse is also deputy director of the Parents as Teachers National Center in St. Louis.

She said Tuesday that the Parkway study was the first data her office had received that went beyond the first grade. Parents as Teachers is a component of the Parkway program.

"It's the first time we've had a well-designed - or a poorly designed, for that matter - study on achievement through the third grade," she said. "From that perspective, I'm very excited."

Parkway's Early Childhood Program is for children from birth to age 3 and their parents. Services include visits with parent educators, health and developmental screenings, educational programs on parenting skills and related topics and various support services.

Last year, some 4,800 families participated. The district has offered the program since 1985.

"Third-graders who had been in the Parkway Early Childhood Program (PECP), especially those who had received the full range of PECP services, performed better in school than those who had not participated in PECP," Dan Coates, director of program evaluation, noted in the report.

To increase the validity of the study, Coates said he compared third graders who had participated in the early childhood program with the same number of third graders from the same school who had not participated. Both groups had been in the district since kindergarten.

He also noted that many of the students who had not been enrolled in the early childhood program had been enrolled in other early childhood programs or another type of preschool service.

Coates said his study showed that the early childhood program "graduates" did better on the Stanford Achievement Test. …

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