Can Early Intervention Prevent High School Dropout?

Evidence from the Chicago Child-Parent Centers

Judy A. Temple, Arthur J. Reynolds, and Wendy T. Miedel.


We investigated the effects of participation in the Chicago Child-Parent Center and Expansion Program from ages 3 to 9 on early school dropout by age 17.  The Child -Parent Centers offer a government-funded educational intervention program in preschool through second or third grade in 20 centers located in Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods.   Analyses included 1,159 program and comparison-group youth (75% of the original sample).  Regression analysis indicated that participation in the program for 5 or 6 years was associated with an 8 percentage-point reduction in dropout, which represents a 27% reduction in the rate of early school dropout.  Preschool participation was associated with a 24% reduction in the rate of dropout.  Other predictors of school dropout included grade retention, school mobility, and low parent participation in children’s schooling.  These factors appear to be paths through which early intervention reduces school dropout.

Presented at the 4th National Head Start Research Conference, Washington, DC.
Urban education35(1), 31-56.   

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