Based on the accumulated evidence in the Chicago Longitudinal Study (CLS) on the effects of the Child-Parent Center (CPC) Education Program, the Midwest CPC Preschool to 3rd Grade Expansion (CPC-P3) began in the fall of 2012 under an Investing in Innovation Grant from the US Department of Education to HCRC at the University of Minnesota. The goals of the project, implemented over 5 years, are as follows: (1) implement the CPC program with a high degree of fidelity; (2) evaluate the implementation of the program; (3) assess the impact on child well-being and parental involvement; (4) assess impacts according to child, family, program, and community characteristics; (5) estimate the initial costs and benefits; and (6) develop plans to sustain the program and increase opportunities for expansion.
The preschool cohort of 2,364 three- and four-year-olds from low-income neighborhoods included families in the Chicago Public Schools, Saint Paul Public Schools, McLean County Unit District 5 (Normal, IL), Evanston-Skokie School District 65, and the Virginia School District (Virginia, MN). In addition to 29 schools, 3 community-based child care/early education centers also participated. Project partners with the university team include the Erikson Institute (professional development), Illinois State University (sustainability), SRI International (independent evaluator), and philanthropic organizations that provided required matching funding to the Investing in Innovation project. SRI International designed the evaluation in partnership with the university team. Along with the comparison group, CPC-P3 children were followed through 3rd grade (2016-2017) with a focus on the CPC cohort’s program experiences over time. Long-term follow-up is ongoing.
The comparison group was propensity-score matched and included 2,364 preschool children in 22 schools in Chicago, Saint Paul, and Evanston-Skokie (Normal, IL did not have a comparison). As with the intervention, most of the comparison group (about 70%) was in Chicago. The intervention and comparison groups were matched on the following: (1) propensity score probability of enrollment in schools with equivalent characteristics (based on family income, race and ethnicity, and third-grade achievement); (2) enrollment in schools receiving Title I funding from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act; (3) availability of preschool classes; (4) school agrees to participate in data collection; and (5) neighborhood location. To avoid the possibility of contamination, comparison schools were outside a 5-block radius of the program sites. Comparison schools and teachers received annual financial incentives for participating. Because of the accumulated positive evidence from prior studies, a randomized control trial would have been unethical and induced treatment contamination, as has been found in prior school reform and extended intervention research.