“There is a gap in vocabulary knowledge between economically disadvantaged and economically advantaged children that begins in preschool and is an important correlate of poor school performance.” (p. 526)
Does the program work?
Data and observed developments over the years support the win-win-win description offered earlier:
CHILDREN: While test scores are useful, and program graduates do well on them, there are indicators some would consider more powerful. This advantage could be seen among children of low income entering kindergarten. Program graduates who then attended a preschool tested 10.2 months above chronological age. Similar students who attended preschool but not the Parent-Child Home Program were 4.2 months ahead.
One of the questions that should be asked about any intervention is whether it has a lasting effect. Independent research showed that 84 percent of the children who completed the PCHP program graduated from high school. That figure has significant meaning when looked at in comparison to non-participating peers and national averages; 54 percent of the non-participating peers of the children studied graduated high school. The national percentage of high school graduation for low-income children at the time of the study was 65 percent. The national percentage of middle-class children was 84 percent. Thus, it can be successfully stated that the program makes middle-class parents out of poor parents in regard to preparing their child for school.
On the local level, as part of my advanced degree studies at Salem State University, I compared test performance of children participating in the program with local and state scores and also compared referral histories on the local level.
I found that 77 percent of the children were still in the Salem public schools six years after having the program. In third grade, 95 percent of program grads were passing MCAS. This compares with figures for all students of 91 percent locally and 93 percent statewide. Similarly, grade four ELA testing showed 100 percent program passage as compared to 75 percent locally and 79 percent statewide. Fourth-grade math scores revealed 80 percent PCHP passage compared to 71 percent locally and 72 percent statewide. This is strong evidence of PCHP overcoming the largest recognized barrier to test performance.