Department of Education Funds SRI International's Evaluation of Early Childhood Intervention Program in the Midwest

Aug 15, 2012, 12:00 ET from SRI International

MENLO PARK, Calif., Aug. 15 , 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- At the start of the 2012-2013 school year, SRI International will begin an evaluation of the Midwest Expansion of the Child-Parent Center (CPC) program, an intervention that provides comprehensive educational and family-support services to at-risk pre-kindergarten through third-grade children in low-income neighborhoods in Illinois and Minnesota.  

The CPC program is the second-oldest federally funded preschool program in the United States, longer in duration than most other early childhood interventions and the first to integrate services from preschool through third grade. CPC began in Chicago public schools in 1967 in response to poor attendance, low student achievement, and lack of parental involvement. 

It's also the focus of the University of Minnesota-led Chicago Longitudinal Study, a federally funded investigation of early and extensive childhood intervention. Arthur Reynolds, project director at the University of Minnesota, is leading the ongoing Chicago Longitudinal Study and the Midwest expansion of the CPC program.

As part of a five-year subcontract from the University of Minnesota, SRI researchers will evaluate outcomes from more than 2,000 families across 56 schools to determine whether the CPC program leads to improved student and parent outcomes. Half of the children and families in the evaluation will participate in the CPC program.

SRI researchers will collect comprehensive data about how intervention components are being implemented and whether the program increases children's school readiness skills and parents' involvement in their children's education. Children's social and academic skills, including literacy and math, will be assessed in the fall of their preschool and kindergarten years and again at the end of second grade.

Previous studies by University of Minnesota researchers have shown that the CPC program has positive effects on student achievement and economic returns to society. SRI will conduct the first independent evaluation and will expand the research to include contemporary populations of young children.

"Although we know a lot more about how to provide a high-quality early educational experience than we did several decades ago, it's crucial to conduct a thorough, independent evaluation to understand whether this knowledge is being used to make intervention programs more successful," said Donna Spiker, Ph.D., program manager of the Early Childhood Program in SRI's Center for Education and Human Services. "There are new challenges in the 21st century, with more diverse populations of children in the United States and more economic pressures on families. Our evaluation will carefully scrutinize how the CPC intervention is being implemented and whether the program is working to improve children's outcomes."

SRI is conducting the evaluation as part of a five-year, $15 million Investing in Innovation grant from the U.S. Department of Education that was awarded to the Human Capital Research Collaborative. The Collaborative is a partnership between the University of Minnesota and the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and other nonprofit and education organizations in Illinois and Minnesota.  

The views and conclusions contained herein are those of the author and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official polices or endorsements, either expressed or implied, of the USDE or the Government.

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SOURCE SRI International