Low Birth Weight, Preschool Education, and School Remediation
Issue/Topic: P-3 Evaluation/Economic Benefits
Author(s): Arteaga, Irma; Reynolds, Arthur; Temple, Judy
Organization(s): University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
Publication: Education and Urban Society
Published On: 1/1/2010
Although the later risks to child development associated with low birth weight are well known, relatively few prospective studies have been conducted to assess its unique contributions into adolescence. The contribution of low birth weight relative to or in addition to other risk factors for low-income children is not well documented. For example, low parent education, single-parent family status and poverty also are risk factors associated with lower school performance and general well-being.
To investigate whether a high-quality preschool program can reduce the negative effects of low family income and low birth weight on the need for special education and grade retention.
Low birth-weight and family risk factors.
Contrary to results in many published studies, for urban children from low-income families, low birth weight is not a predictor of later special education services (low birth weight is defined in the study as 2,500 grams, 5 pounds, 8 ounces and below). However, low birth weight is associated with significantly higher rates of grade retention, especially for boys. Low birth-weight students have a 7 percentage-point increase in the probability of being retained.
Participation in high-quality preschool programs.
- The effects of preschool are greater for children from low-income families, reducing the likelihood of school remediation and grade retention.
- Preschool appears to be equally effective on average for low and regular birth-weight children.
- Family risk measured at the time of the child's birth is predictive of school remediation services.
- The beneficial effects of preschool on special education placement and grade retention are greater for children from low-income families.
- Early intervention through participation in preschool works best for boys and for those from low-income families.
- Participation in a high-quality preschool program is significantly effective for urban minority youth.
- Because of the impact of poverty and other risk factors, policymakers should consider ways to increase access to high quality preschool in poor urban areas.
1,315 low-income and predominately African American children in Chicago
Year data is from:
Data Collection and Analysis:
Analysis of the Chicago Longitudinal Study (investigates the effects of the Child-Parent preschool program for more than 1,500 children born in 1979 or 1980)
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