The Longitudinal Effects of Preschool on Rural Iowa Children
Koehler, Marilyn Joiner
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The purpose of the study was to determine whether students who participated in the preschool program for rural, four-year-olds differed significantly from other students of the same age who did not attend any formal early education program. Sixty students were selected for the study; 30 formed the experimental group and 30 formed the control group. The two groups were compared in the number of specia! education placements, the frequency of grade level retention, and in academic achievement as evaluated by the standardized test scores in reading and math. Results of the present study indicated that there was no significant difference between groups in the measures of achievement in math and reading through sixth grade. However, there were significant differences favoring the control group in the number of special education placements and in the frequency of grade level retention through sixth grade. Specifically, 23 percent of the preschool students were retained by sixth grade; no controls were retained. Of the preschool group, 30 percent were placed in special education; only 7 percent of the controls were placed in special education. The results did not corroborate many of the findings reported in previous studies of disadvantaged, urban populations. The current study raises questions about the effectiveness of preschool programs. Further study is needed to determine whether the critical aspects in present models can replicate the quality preschool education that produced positive results.
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