A recent study published in Educational Researcher explored the long-term impacts of an early childhood educational (ECE) intervention. Watt and colleagues utilized data from the Chicago School Readiness Project (CSRP), which implemented an intervention from 2004 – 2006, along with student enrollment information from the 2016-2017 school year. The initial CSRP intervention focused on addressing behavioral concerns in students and included increased professional development opportunities for teachers and increased access to mental health professionals for teachers and families. This intervention took place in 35 classrooms with 602 students and utilized a cluster-randomized control trial to explore the effectiveness of the CSRP intervention. Watt and colleagues were able to obtain 2016-2017 enrollment information on 461 of those 602 students.
For the current study, the researchers were interested in analyzing the impact that the CSRP intervention had on future school selection. They discovered that：
- Students from the treatment groups were 11.84 percent less likely (p < .001) to enroll in a Chicago Public School (CPS) high school compared to students from the control group.
- For students who remained in the CPS system, those in the treatment group were 8.67 percent less likely (p < .001) to enroll in their neighborhood school than the control group.
- When accounting for a full set of controls, the researchers found the students from the CSRP enrolled in schools with higher performance (β = 0.29; SE = 0.12; p < .05) and higher overall school quality (β = 0.23; SE = 0.11; p < .05).
The specific reasons behind these effects remain to be explored and it is unclear if the results from this study in Chicago would be applicable to other school systems. However, this study does provide some interesting groundwork for future research into effects that ECE programs may have on school choices later in life.
Source: Watts, T., Ibrahim, D., Khader, A., Li, C., Gandhi, J., & Raver, C. (2020). Exploring the Impacts of an Early Childhood Educational Intervention on Later School Selection. Educational Researcher, 49(9), 667-677.