HighScope Perry Preschool model
The HighScope Perry Preschool program, conducted from 1962 to 1967 in Ypsilanti, Michigan, was offered to African-American children from low income neighborhoods. Teachers were certified with at least a bachelor’s degree, the average child-teacher ratio was 6:1, and teachers provided weekly, 1.5 hour home visits for all participants. The HighScope Perry Preschool model encourages active learning, where children plan their own activities, carry them out, and reflect on them. Adults arrange the classroom to foster learning in various areas and coach children as the children plan activities, solve problems, and think through their ideas (PPN, SPTW).
Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)
Increased academic achievement
Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes
Increased high school graduation
Reduced teen pregnancy
Increased healthy behaviors
Evidence of Effectiveness
There is some evidence that the HighScope Perry (HSP) preschool model increases children’s academic achievement (CG-TFR Education, PPN, YG-PPP, Blueprints, Schweinhart 2013, Heckman 2010b). However, additional evidence and replication on a larger scale is needed to confirm effects.
Research following one cohort of HSP preschool students through age 50 indicates that participants have greater academic success, increased employment and earnings, reduced childhood antisocial behavior, and lower rates of crime and incarceration in adulthood than their peers (Schweinhart 2013, Heckman 2010b). These students also have healthier behaviors such as increased use of preventive health care and reduced alcohol and drug use relative to their peers (Muennig 2009, Englund MM, White B, Reynolds AJ, Schweinhart LJ, Campbell FA. Health outcomes of the Abecedarian, Child–Parent Center, and HighScope Perry Preschool programs. In Reynolds AJ, Rolnick AJ, Temple JA, eds. Health and Education in Early Childhood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2015:257-292.
Link to original source (journal subscription may be required for access)). Girls, in particular, are much more likely to graduate high school (PPN), and are less likely to give birth before age 19 than non-participating peers (Blueprints). HSP boys are arrested less often as teenagers and adults, and get in fewer gang fights than non-participating peers (PPN).
The HSP approach also includes child-directed free play under the supervision of staff emphasizing the cultivation of interpersonal skills, which has been shown to improve healthy development, especially social development (Belknap E, Hazler R. Empty playgrounds and anxious children. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health. 2014;9(2):210–231.
Link to original source (journal subscription may be required for access)). Additional research is needed to determine which HSP preschool features or combination of features (e.g., teacher training, curriculum, child assessment, services offered, etc.) support positive outcomes (Mathematica-Caronongan 2016).
A cost-benefit analysis indicates Ypsilanti’s HSP preschool yielded an average societal benefit of $6.60 for every dollar invested (Heckman JJ, Moon SH, Pinto R, Savelyev PA, Yavitz A. The rate of return to the HighScope Perry preschool program. Journal of Public Economics. 2010;94(1-2):114-28.
Link to original source (journal subscription may be required for access)), almost a 7 times return on investment (ROI) (Schweinhart 2013).
Impact on Disparities
Likely to decrease disparities
The original HighScope Perry Preschool is no longer operating. HighScope now maintains a demonstration classroom in Ypsilanti, Michigan that features the HighScope curriculum (PPN, HighScope). The HighScope curriculum, built on the HighScope Perry Preschool model, is used in Head Start programs, as well as various public pre-kindergarten programs, and private preschools across the United States. This curriculum continues to evolve based on ongoing research (HighScope).
The HighScope Educational Research Foundation also offers training, material development, and curriculum assistance to preschool programs around the country (PPN).
Citations - Evidence
* Journal subscription may be required for access.
Blueprints - Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence (CSPV). Blueprints for healthy youth development.
PPN - Promising Practices Network (PPN). On children, families and communities.
Heckman 2010a* - Heckman JJ, Moon SH, Pinto R, Savelyev PA, Yavitz A. The rate of return to the HighScope Perry preschool program. Journal of Public Economics. 2010;94(1-2):114-28.
CG-TFR Education - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Task Force Recommends (TFR) Education Programs to Promote Health Equity.
YG-PPP - Youth.gov (YG), Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs (IWGYP). Perry Preschool Project (PPP).
Englund 2015* - Englund MM, White B, Reynolds AJ, Schweinhart LJ, Campbell FA. Health outcomes of the Abecedarian, Child–Parent Center, and HighScope Perry Preschool programs. In Reynolds AJ, Rolnick AJ, Temple JA, eds. Health and Education in Early Childhood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2015:257-292.
Heckman 2010b - Heckman J, Moon SH, Pinto R, Savelyev P, Yavitz A. Analyzing social experiments as implemented: A reexamination of the evidence from the HighScope Perry Preschool Program. Quantitative Economics. 2010;1(1):1–46.
Schweinhart 2013 - Schweinhart LJ. Long-term follow-up of a preschool experiment. Journal of Experimental Criminology. 2013;9(4):389–409.
Belknap 2014* - Belknap E, Hazler R. Empty playgrounds and anxious children. Journal of Creativity in Mental Health. 2014;9(2):210–231.
Muennig 2009 - Muennig P, Schweinhart L, Montie J, Neidell M. Effects of a prekindergarten educational intervention on adult health: 37-Year follow-up results of a randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Public Health. 2009;99(8):1431–1437.
Mathematica-Caronongan 2016 - Caronongan P, Kirby G, Boller K, Modlin E, Lyskawa J. Assessing the implementation and cost of high quality early care and education: A review of the literature - OPRE Report 2016-31. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS), Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation; 2016.
Citations - Implementation Examples
Date Last Updated
- Scientifically Supported: Strategies with this rating are most likely to make a difference. These strategies have been tested in many robust studies with consistently positive results.
- Some Evidence: Strategies with this rating are likely to work, but further research is needed to confirm effects. These strategies have been tested more than once and results trend positive overall.
- Expert Opinion: Strategies with this rating are recommended by credible, impartial experts but have limited research documenting effects; further research, often with stronger designs, is needed to confirm effects.
- Insufficient Evidence: Strategies with this rating have limited research documenting effects. These strategies need further research, often with stronger designs, to confirm effects.
- Mixed Evidence: Strategies with this rating have been tested more than once and results are inconsistent or trend negative; further research is needed to confirm effects.
- Evidence of Ineffectiveness: Strategies with this rating are not good investments. These strategies have been tested in many robust studies with consistently negative and sometimes harmful results.