Describe the High/Scope Perry Preschool Project. Is this program effective? How do other early-life prevention programs that were discussed in your readings compare to this one?


Describe the High/Scope Perry Preschool Project. Is this program effective? How do other early-life prevention programs that were discussed in your readings compare to this one?

The High/Scope Perry program was designed by David Weikart and his colleagues with the intention of addressing widespread school failure in his district where he served as director of special education. The program, according to Schweinhart (2007), helped kids by fostering intellectual development. The design taken by Weikart was that of a prosocial intervention as his program involved 3 to 4-year-olds and their time in preschool.

The selected children were from low-income African-American families where there was a high risk of failure at school. The idea was that the poverty cycle was kept constant by a lack of proper schooling. The parental background was a factor of consideration in the selection of participants especially from families with low scores of parental schooling, occupational levels, and rooms per person sharing. The sample constituted of 123 kids who were randomly assigned between the program group and the no-program group. Data on the kids was collected from ages 3 up to age 11, and then at ages 14, 15, 19, 27, and 40 (Schweinhart, 2007, p. 144).

The program group was exposed to intensive and individualized attention by teachers at school and also with visits at home that involved the parents as well. Part of the training included improving language skills via building vocabulary, encouragement to make choices, solve problems, and participate in activities leading to physical, social, and intellectual development. Each teacher oversaw an average of 5 to 6.25 children which helped in the individualized approach to learning. The education was systematic following the High/Scope method.

The findings of the program showed high success rates with high variability (in favor of the program group) on arrests, drug dealing, public assistance dependence, births out of wedlock, earning levels, home ownership, and advancing education beyond the 12th grade. The program was also found to carry a benefit in terms of cost since each dollar invested brought an economic return of $17.07.

This program by David Weikart was highly praised for its reliability as empirical evidence of the success of early intervention programs. The design of the program is particularly of note as it uses a control group to show the net effects of the exposure. This use of a control group establishes a comparability effect and gives room for inferring a causal relationship. For instance, since all the children were African American and they had the same economic status and environmental characteristics, their better outcomes could only be directly linked to the High/Scope Perry program rather that other confounding variables. The program also measured the outcomes over a significant number of years – from age 3 to age 40 – hence showing reliability as a longitudinal study.

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Overall, the program was a success and it embodies the success of early intervention programs particularly those instituted at the prosocial stage. The program greatly mirrors that of David Olds, the Nurse-Family Partnership, where intervention was done at the pregnancy stage with an all-round approach that empowered the high-risk mothers such that they could support their families, access better maternal care, and offer a positive environment for the child. Olds’ program also showed positive outcomes in the program group compared to the no-program group.

Similarly, these two programs compare to the Abecedarian Project of 1972 as described by Farrington and Coid (2003). The project involved a comparative study of 111 infants from high-risk families who were assigned to the program group and no-program group. The program group was exposed to education that highly boosted their literacy skills and language skills. Just as in Weikart’s program, the findings were positive with the program group showing high levels of literacy. Also, another comparable program is that by Lawrence (2006) where fish oil led to improvement in boys behavior. The evidence in the case described by Lawrence (2006) was however not collected over a long period of time as in the other studies described above.

In conclusion, there is a level of similarity in the early intervention programs covered in class this week – and last week – and in general, there is overwhelming evidence that early intervention works as a deterrent from crime in later adult years as well as a catalyst for better school performance and life in terms of economic performance. The High/Scope program simply represents one of the most successful instances  of such early intervention programs (Beaver, 2020, Week 11 notes).


Beaver, K.M. (2020).  Prevention and Treatment of Crime and Delinquency (CCJ5546): Week 11 Lecture Notes: Early Childhood Intervention Programs.  Florida State University.

Lawrence, F. (2006). Fish oil improves boys’ behaviour. The Guardianship, p. 11.

Moffitt, T. E. and Caspi, A. (2003. Preventing the intergenerational continuity of antisocial behaviour: Implications for of partner violence. In D. P. Farrington and J. W. Coid (eds.), Early Prevention of Adult Antisocial Behavior, pp. 109-129. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Schweinhart, L. J. (2007). Crime prevention by the High/Scope Perry preschool program. Victims and Offenders, 2(2), 141-160.

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