Chapter 9 - Early Training Project
Introduction to the Original Evaluation (Excerpt)
The Early Training Project, which operated in Abbotfield, Tennessee from 1962 to 1965, was a modest intervention aimed at preschoolers. It was designed to offset "the progressive retardation observed in poor children as they progress through school." The program's objective was to help these children prepare for school by offsetting the effects of being born into poverty. It provided "special experiences" in the two and one-half years before first grade, including a part-day preschool program during the summer and weekly home visits during the school year.
Susan Gray, Barbara Ramsey, and Rupert Klaus, researchers at Vanderbilt University (the "Vanderbilt team"), evaluated the Early Training Project using random assignment during the course of the program and then periodically following-up on the children until age twenty-one. They found that the program produced early gains on various cognitive measures, but few statistically significant effects remained by the time the participants had turned twenty-one. Although the project was evaluated using random assignment and there was relatively little attrition, the very small initial sample (sixty-three children) seriously limited the statistical power of the evaluation. Thus, it is unclear whether the small effects are due to the weakness of the intervention or the limited statistical power of the analysis. The program was also included in the Consortium Study (see chapter 4), which statistically combined findings from selected early childhood education programs that had conducted long-term follow-ups.
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