As the Twig Is Bent--Lasting Effects of Preschool Programs

By Consortium for Longitudinal Studies. | Go to book overview

preschool it is equally possible that children from more intact and more effective families could gain more from their preschool experience.


SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

The 12-year follow-up study examined whether the length of preschool affected the intellectual and socioemotional development of economically disadvantaged children. An attempt was made to carry out a comprehensive assessment of development, to employ multiple criteria and measures in each of the areas studied, and to examine the findings in the context of family background variables.

Length of preschool and preschool versus no preschool related to different aspects of intellectual development (i.e., aptitude, achievement, attitude, and motivation) and of socioemotional development (i.e., attitudes, motivation, moral judgment, ego development, and ego functions). Short- and long-term, immediate and delayed effects were found in both areas of development.

Preschool effects on intellectual aptitude when measured by the comprehensive Stanford-Binet test were greater the earlier the child entered preschool. These effects were immediate; that is, they occurred by the end of the first year of school (nursery, kindergarten or first grade) and were sustained to the fourth grade when measurement ceased. When measured by the Goodenough (performance) IQ test, effects of length of preschool were apparent in third grade and increased in the fourth grade (when measurement ceased).

Effects on academic achievement were assessed in three ways: school grades, teacher comments, and retention in grade. For all three, length of preschool yielded significant effects. Effects of length of preschool on higher classroom grades over the first four grades were more consistent in girls, were more significant in second and third grade, began to level off in fourth grade, and disappeared by the fifth grade. Positive effects on teacher comments on the child's academic progress from first to eleventh grade were marginally significant for children with longer preschool and were significant for boys with 2 years of preschool. The relationship between preschool experience and less retention in grade reached significance among children with employed parents and approached significance among children of father-present families.

The positive effects on attitudes and motivation to achieve intellectually, measured during the first three grades, were due to any amount of preschool versus no preschool, rather than to length of preschool.

Three areas of socioemotional development were assessed with identical methods and content in fourth and tenth grades: self-concept, moral judgment, and reflectiveness-impulsiveness in problem solving. Length of preschool produced delayed effects in the first two areas. Effects of length of preschool were

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