YPSILANTI, MI (February 12, 2013) — Larry Schweinhart has announced his plans to retire from the presidency of the HighScope Educational Research Foundation in August 2013. A tireless advocate for highly effective preschool programs, Schweinhart has been an early childhood program researcher and speaker throughout the United States and in other countries for 38 years.
Schweinhart began his work with HighScope in 1975. He became director of HighScope’s Center for the Study of Public Policies for Young Children in 1979 and chair of its research division in 1989. He has served as president of HighScope since 2003. Schweinhart has been deeply involved in the HighScope Perry Preschool Study, the landmark study establishing the great human and financial potential of high-quality early childhood programs. The Perry Study was initiated by HighScope founder David P. Weikart in 1962 and was co-directed by Weikart and Schweinhart starting in 1979. Schweinhart took over as principal investigator in the study after Weikart’s retirement in 2000.
The Perry Preschool Study — the best known of HighScope’s research efforts — examines the lives of 123 people born in poverty who were at high risk of failing in school. From 1962 to 1967, at ages 3 and 4, the study participants were randomly divided into a program group that received a high-quality preschool program that used HighScope’s participatory curriculum and a comparison group that received no preschool program. In the study’s most recent phase at age 40, 97 percent of the study participants still living were interviewed. Additional data were gathered from their school, social services, and arrest records.
The study found that adults at age 40 who had the preschool program had higher earnings, a better employment rate, and a lower arrest rate than adults who did not have preschool and that the girls with preschool had a higher high school graduation rate. “Most important, this study shows an extraordinary return on investment in high-quality preschools, over seven times as great as the amount originally invested,” said Schweinhart. This return on investment can be achieved today, with current preschool programs, but “to get what we got, you’ve got to do what we did,” explained Schweinhart. This means offering children a preschool program that has certified and/or well-supervised teachers who use the HighScope Curriculum or other curriculum of proven effectiveness, systematically engages parents, and stays on track by regularly assessing program implementation and children’s development. In addition to the Perry Preschool Study, Schweinhart has directed Michigan’s Great Start Readiness Program Evaluation, HighScope’s Head Start Quality Research Center, and the development and validation of the Child Observation Record. Schweinhart received his PhD in education from Indiana University in 1975.
HighScope’s board of directors have secured the services of a search firm to help them in their selection of a new president. For further information, see HighScope’s announcement of the new president.
HighScope Educational Research Foundation is an early childhood leader in pursuit of a world where all children have the opportunity to develop socially, emotionally, and cognitively so they have satisfying, productive lives. HighScope supports the development of young children from birth through age eight by developing and providing quality, research-based, high-quality curricula, assessments, professional learning, and other supports in the context of families and their communities.
HighScope’s roots extend back to the Perry Preschool Project (1962–1967). Launched in Ypsilanti, Michigan and led by Ypsilanti Schools psychologist David Weikart and Perry Elementary School principal Charles Eugene Beatty, the Perry Preschool Project was one of the first early childhood programs in the United States intentionally designed to increase school success for preschool children living in poverty. Today, HighScope’s work can be found in classrooms throughout the United States and in educational settings around the globe.
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