Assessing the Evaluations of Early Childhood Education Programs

Chapter 18 - Infant Health and Development Program
Introduction to the Original Evaluation (Excerpt)

The Infant Health and Development Program (IHDP), carried out in eight medical centers from 1985 to 1988, was designed as a test of providing comprehensive early intervention services to low birth weight (LBW) children. These children were targeted because of their heightened risk of developing learning disabilities, experiencing academic problems, and exhibiting behavior problems. A national IHDP office guided the efforts of eight sites associated with medical schools.

Ruth T. Gross, Professor of Pediatrics at Stanford University, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Virginia and Leonard Marx Professor of Child Development and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, Cecelia M. McCarton, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Marie C. McCormick, professor and chair, Department of Maternal and Child Health, Harvard School of Public Health, headed teams composed of dozens of other independent analysts (the "IHDP evaluation team") in evaluating the IHDP, using random assignment and following the infants through age eighteen.

Program children exhibited early IQ gains that dissipated by age eighteen. At age eighteen, the heavier LBW children had statistically significant higher mathematics test scores on the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement-Revised compared to the control group. However, on every other measure, there were no statistically significant improvements. The cost of the program (about $18,250 per child, in 2005 dollars) was quite high relative to the modest benefits it seemed to confer.

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