Perry Preschool Project

More than 50 years ago, the Perry Preschool Project forever changed the trajectory of early education.

Does High-Quality Preschool Education Make a Difference?

The Perry Project began as a research study seeking the answer to whether access to high-quality education could have a positive impact on preschool children and the communities where they live. Under the visionary research guidance of psychologist David Weikart, and with the extraordinary dedication of Perry Elementary School principal Charles Eugene Beatty, 123 preschool children with risk factors of failing in school were randomly divided into two groups. One group entered a high-quality preschool program based on HighScope’s active learning approach, and a comparison group who received no preschool education.

The Perry Project was conducted from 1962–1967, but led to a longitudinal documentary as we continue to follow the Perry Preschool participants throughout their lives in this landmark study that forever changed the trajectory of early education. The Perry Preschool Project established the lasting human and financial value of early childhood education and led to the establishment of the HighScope Education Research Foundation and one of the first early childhood programs in the United States intentionally designed to increase school success for preschool children living in poverty.

The longitudinal study found that at age 40, the participants who experienced the preschool program

  • Had fewer teenage pregnancies
  • Were more likely to have graduated from high school
  • Were more likely to hold a job and have higher earnings
  • Committed fewer crimes
  • Owned their own home and car

As the longest-running longitudinal study in early education, the Perry Study continues to prove that investing in high-quality early education yields positive results for children and families.

Arrested 5+ times by age 40

  • Program Group 36% 36%
  • Non-program Group 55% 55%

Earned $20,000+ at age 40

  • Program Group 60% 60%
  • Non-program Group 40% 40%

Graduated high school

  • Program Group 77% 77%
  • Non-program Group 60% 60%

Basic achievement at age 14

  • Program Group 49% 49%
  • Non-program Group 15% 15%

Homework at age 15

  • Program Group 61% 61%
  • Non-program Group 38% 38%

IQ 90+ at age 5

  • Program Group 67% 67%
  • Non-program Group 28% 28%

Return on Investment

Education Savings


Taxes on Earnings


Welfare Savings


Crime Savings


Costs of Perry Preschool Program


Return per Dollar Invested