Compensatory Education

After reading Charles Murray’s skepticism regarding a study of the Harlem Children Zone, I did a quick search for research about some of the programs he mentions in the article. These are some of the best known programs that attempted to improve the test scores and social skills of poor an under-preforming students:

  • Harlem Children’s Zone
  • Milwaukee Project
  • Abecedarian Project
  • Perry Preschool

The most complete summaries of these programs, including extensive bibliographies, come from the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, such as:

While the programs do report success in improving social outcomes, they don’t seems to do much with IQ over the long term, and even the social improvements appear to be moving the participants from the very lowest rung to the next highest rung, certainly not into the stable middle class. For instance, the improvements over the control group for the Perry Preschool Project include:

  • 28% served prison time
  • 57% out-of-wedlock births
  • $1,856 median monthly income at age 40 ( 2006 or so )
  • 65% graduated from high school

Yes, those are the stats for the improved group. The project reports that the intervention was a worthwhile expense for the reduction of social problems, but it also sets lower expectations for what interventionist compensatory education can reasonably achieve.

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