Grant Recipient: University of California, San Diego
Principal Investigators: Anya Samek, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego
John List, Ph.D., University of Chicago
Term: 2020 –2022
Summary: This project will fund a longer-term follow-up of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of early childhood interventions provided through the Chicago Heights Early Childhood Center (CHECC), which were designed to improve children’s academic skills and executive functioning (e.g., working memory, inhibitory control). Between 2010 and 2014, 2,033 children aged 3 – 4 years old were randomized into one of three groups: (i) a 9‑month, full-day preschool program; (ii) Parent Academy, a 9‑month program that teaches parents how to teach their child at home, combined with a financial incentive tied to program participation and children’s performance on assessments; or (iii) a control group that did not receive CHECC services. Almost all children in the study (90%) are either black or Hispanic, and approximately two-thirds come from households with less than $36,000 in annual household income at the start of the study.
At the immediate postintervention follow-up (9 months after random assignment), the preschool program was found to increase early academic skills by 0.22 standard deviations and executive functioning skills by 0.16 standard deviations, compared to the control group. Both impacts were statistically significant. Over the same follow-up period, the Parent Academy was found to produce no significant effects on either academic skills or executive functioning (there were modest effects favoring the treatment group, but they did not reach statistical significance).
This study will measure the impact of the preschool and Parent Academy interventions on 2nd-4th grade standardized test scores (i.e. 6 – 10 years after random assignment), with 3rd grade standardized test scores as the confirmatory outcome. These outcomes will be measured using administrative records from Chicago Heights and surrounding school districts.
The study’s pre-specified analysis plan is linked here.