HighScope Perry Preschool Study
The High/Scope Perry Preschool Project is a famous research study started in 1962 by David Weikart in
Michigan, USA. The project provided high-quality pre-school education to three- and four-year-old AfricanAmerican children living in poverty and assessed to be at high risk of school failure.
The 123 children involved were divided randomly into two groups. Fifty-eight children received the
High/Scope pre-school programme from 1962 to 1967 and 65 similar children were assigned to a control group.
The pre-school activity was provided each weekday morning in 2.5-hour sessions. The average child-teacher
ratio was 6:1.
The curriculum emphasised active learning, in which the children engaged in activities that a) involved decision
making and problem solving, and b) were planned, carried out and reviewed by the children themselves, with
support from adults. The teachers also provided a weekly 1.5-hour home visit to each mother and child,
designed to involve the mother in the educational process and help implement the pre-school curriculum at
The project has monitored the achievement, motivation and social behaviour of the children from the ages of
three to 41, with 97% of the study sample remaining.
Lifetime Effects: The HighScope Perry Preschool Study Through Age 40 (2005)
This study — perhaps the most well-known of all HighScope research efforts — examines the lives of
123 African Americans born in poverty and at high risk of failing in school.
From 1962–1967, at ages 3 and 4, the subjects were randomly divided into a program group that
received a high-quality preschool program based on HighScope's participatory learning approach and
a comparison group who received no preschool program. In the study's most recent phase, 97% of
the study participants still living were interviewed at age 40. Additional data were gathered from the
subjects' school, social services, and arrest records.
The study found that adults at age 40 who had the preschool program had higher earnings, were
more likely to hold a job, had committed fewer crimes, and were more likely to have graduated from
high school than adults who did not have preschool.