Among the growing pile of influential studies on early education, a few have become landmarks. They have tracked children over not just one year or two years, but into their mid 20s, and even at age 40, giving us important information on how participants have fared now that they are adults. The Abecedarian Project – an early childhood program for children from infancy through age 5 -- is one of these famous studies. Last month, in an article in the journal Developmental Psychology, researchers released results of a study on later outcomes for the children in the Abecedarian project, giving us fresh information on their well-being at age 30.
In our podcast today, we talk with Craig Ramey, an internationally renowned scholar of early childhood research who created the Abecedarian Project in the 1970s. Ramey is now a professor and distinguished research scholar at Virginia Tech's Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute. He is among the co-authors of the Developmental Pyschology article; the article's lead writer is Frances Campbell, a senior scientist at the FPG Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Results from this latest study show that Abecedarian participants were four times more likely to obtain a college degree than those in the study's control group who received health and social services but no specialized early learning program. Participants were from low-income, predominantly African American families in the Durham-Chapel Hill area of North Carolina. The study did not uncover significant differences in earnings, but Ramey suggested that those results may reflect the fact that jobs of many kinds are relatively plentiful in this part of the country, which has come to be known as the Research Triangle.
"It suggests that there is another chapter or two that has to be looked at," Ramey said. "Getting a college degree is one of the most life-changing events in the lives of American citizens. It reaps benefits for decades to come as well as generational benefits."
Early Ed Watch podcast – February 20, 2012
Abecedarian Study Tracks Impact from Infancy to Age 30
With our guest Craig Ramey, professor and distinguished research scholar at Virginia Tech's Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute
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