IEA Preprimary Project
HighScope Press Release
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Director, Sales and Marketing
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For Immediate Release
International Research Study Reveals Four Key Teaching Practices in Early Childhood Learning
Findings of IEA Preprimary Project could dramatically improve early childhood teaching practices worldwide
Ypsilanti, MI, September 18, 2006 — A long-term, multinational study of early education has uncovered findings that hold great promise for improving children's language and cognitive performance.
The purpose of the the IEA Preprimary Project, conducted in 15 countries, was to identify teaching practices that influence children's language skills and ability to reason at age 7.
The study — the largest of its kind to date — involved initial assessment of more than 5,000 4-year-olds in 15 countries and some 1,800 settings. Researchers in 10 of these countries again assessed children in the sample at age 7.
Results of the study, which appeared in the Fall 2006 issue of the Early Childhood Research Quarterly, identified four teaching practices that were consistently related to positive child outcomes across all 10 countries that had data at age 7. Controlling for family and cultural influences, researchers found the following:
Children's language abilities are enhanced when early childhood teachers allow them to choose many of their activities on their own.
Children fare significantly better in language skills development with teachers who have achieved a higher level of education.
Children's thinking skills improve when they spend less time participating in activities as a whole group.
The more equipment and materials available in preschool settings, the better the outcome in terms of children's cognitive performance.
Researchers from the Michigan-based HighScope Educational Research Foundation coordinated the project, in collaboration with colleagues from Finland, Greece, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Spain, Thailand, and the U.S. (Additional countries participated in earlier phases of the study.)
According to Larry Schweinhart, president of HighScope and a researcher on the study, these findings point up the central importance of appropriate teaching practices, activities, and materials in early childhood. "We were pleased to find this new evidence from countries around the world that early childhood educators contribute to children's development when they emphasize child-initiated activities, limit use of whole-group instruction, and provide abundant materials in the classroom."
A brief summary of the age-7 results of the study is available; also available is a preprint version of the published article on the study.
HighScope was founded in 1970 by David Weikart, who launched the groundbreaking HighScope Perry Preschool Study. Initiated in 1962 and lasting over 40 years, the study found that a high quality early childhood program exerts a dramatic impact on the lives of poor children, improving their educational success, increasing their adult earnings, reducing their criminal activity, and returning nearly $13 to taxpayers for every dollar invested in the program. HighScope's educational model, in which children plan, do, and review their own learning activities, has been validated by longitudinal research studies and has influenced a generation of educators and policy makers. An independent nonprofit research and development organization, HighScope has helped lead worldwide educational reform through its evaluative research, curriculum development, teacher training, publishing, and communication.