Educational Success in High-Risk Settings: Contributions of the Chicago Longitudinal Study

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<ul><li><p>Journal of School Psychology, Vol. 37, No. 4, pp. 345354, 1999Copyright 2000 Society for the Study of School Psychology</p><p>Printed in the USA0022-4405/99 $see front matter</p><p>Pergamon</p><p>PII S0022-4405(99)00025-4</p><p>Educational Success in High-Risk Settings:Contributions of the Chicago Longitudinal Study</p><p>Arthur J. ReynoldsUniversity of WisconsinMadison</p><p>I provide an overview of the Chicago Longitudinal Study. This prospective studytraces the educational and social success of a large sample of low-income children(over 90% of whom are African American) from high-poverty neighborhoods in theChicago Public Schools. In 19851986, the sample participated in the ChildParentCenters and other early childhood programs. The four studies reported in this spe-cial issue highlight the contributions of school mobility, parent involvement, educa-tional expectations, and other family and school experiences in preventing learningproblems and promoting educational success. 2000 Society for the Study ofSchool Psychology. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd</p><p>Keywords: Educational success, Prevention, Low-income children, Longitudinalstudies, Early intervention.</p><p>This special issue of the Journal of School Psychology is about improving theschool success of urban children who are at risk of educational and socialdifficulties due to economic disadvantage. The increasing prevalence ofchildren at risk of school failure continues to concern educators, research-ers, and policy-makers alike (McLoyd, 1998; National Center for Childrenin Poverty, 1997; Weissberg &amp; Greenberg, 1998). Because children repre-sent our human potential, the growing presence of children at risk due topoverty and associated factors may severely limit their future success.</p><p>Using data from the Chicago Longitudinal Study (CLS)an ongoing in-vestigation of a large sample of low-income minority childrenfour studiesare reported on the personal, family, and school factors that contribute tochildrens scholastic development during early to middle adolescence.Topics of these studies include school mobility (transfer), parent involve-ment in childrens education, parent and teacher educational expecta-tions, and motivational factors in the home and school, among others. Ex-ploration of the factors that predict educational success in urban settingsis timely, given the substantial investments in education today at all levelsof society, and the high priority of school reforms in states and localitiesaround the country. The studies reported illustrate some of the important</p><p>Received August 16, 1999; accepted August 16, 1999.Address correspondence to Dr. Arthur J. Reynolds, Waisman Center, University of Wiscon-</p><p>sinMadison, 1500 Highland Avenue, Madison, WI 53705. E-mail:</p><p>345</p></li><li><p>346 Journal of School Psychology</p><p>issues for educators and policy-makers to address in improving schools andchildrens educational and social development. The findings may provideimpetus to proactive rather than reactive policies for meeting the needs ofchildren and families in urban and other settings.</p><p>The CLS (Reynolds, 1991; Reynolds, Bezruczko, &amp; Hagemann, 1997) in-vestigates the educational and social development of a same-age cohort of1,539 low-income minority children (93% African American) who grew upin high-poverty neighborhoods in central-city Chicago and completed gov-ernment-funded kindergarten programs in the Chicago Public Schools in1986. Children were at risk of poor outcomes because they face socialenvironmental disadvantages including neighborhood poverty, family low-income status, and other economic and educational hardships. The origi-nal sample included all 1,150 children who attended or received servicesfrom the 20 ChildParent Centers in kindergarten in 19851986. Another389 children of the same age participated in an alternative all-day kinder-garten program in 5 Chicago public schools in similar neighborhoods.</p><p>As a consequence of living in school neighborhoods eligible for Title Ifunding, all children in this cohort were eligible for and participated in gov-ernment-funded early childhood programs. CLS children in kindergartenattended schools, for example, in which 67% of students in the attendancearea were from low-income families, compared to 42% for all students inthe Chicago Public Schools. As shown in Figure 1, children grew up and at-tended schools in the highest poverty neighborhoods in Chicago. Of the 77official community areas in Chicago, study children in kindergarten at-tended 25 schools representing 17 community areas. Many of these schoolswere concentrated in the most disadvantaged community areas, includingNorth Lawndale, East and West Garfield Park, Woodlawn, and Grand Bou-levard.</p><p>Selected sample characteristics of the original and age 14 follow-up sam-ples are displayed in Table 1. The sample is evenly split between boys andgirls, 58% of parents reported they graduated from high school, and over90% were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. About two thirds partici-pated in the ChildParent Center (CPC) Program during preschool. Thesamples analyzed in the studies reported in this special issue varied in size,based on the available data for the questions addressed, and for the mostpart, fairly well represented the original sample on child and family back-ground characteristics.</p><p>The CLS is guided by four major goals:</p><p>1. To document patterns of school performance and social competencethroughout the school-age years, including participants school achieve-ment and attitudes, academic progress, and psychosocial development.</p></li><li><p>347Reynolds</p><p>Figure 1. Schools and the community contexts in the Chicago Longitudinal Study.</p><p>2. To evaluate the effects of the CPC and Expansion Program on child andyouth development. Children and families had the opportunity to par-ticipate in this unique Head Start-type early childhood interventionfrom ages 3 to 9 (preschool to third grade).</p></li><li><p>348 Journal of School Psychology</p><p>Table 1Selected Characteristics of the Original Sample and the Follow-Up Sample</p><p>at Age 14</p><p>Original Age 14Sample Characteristic Sample Sample</p><p>Number of children 1,539 1,164CPC preschool 989 772No CPC preschool 550 392</p><p>Sample recovery (%) 100 75.6CPC preschool (%) 64.3 66.3CPC follow-on program (%) 54.8 57.0African American (%) 92.9 93.7Girls (%) 50.2 51.8From neighborhoods</p><p>.60% low income (%) 76.0 76.1Live in single-parent home by age 12 (%) 68.9 69.3From families with</p><p>high-school degree or more (%) 57.7 57.5Eligible for free</p><p>lunch from ages 8 to 12 (%) 83.7 83.7Age at kindergarten entry in months (M) 63.4 63.4Word analysis score in kindergarten (M)</p><p>(National average 5 60) 63.8 63.7</p><p>CPC 5 ChildParent Center.</p><p>3. To identify and better understand the educational and psychosocialmechanisms through which the effects of early childhood experiencesare manifested, and more generally, through which scholastic and be-havioral development proceeds.</p><p>4. To investigate the contributions to childrens educational and social de-velopment of a variety of personal, family, school, and community fac-tors, especially those that can be altered by program or policy interven-tions to prevent learning difficulties and promote positive outcomes.</p><p>This special issue highlights Goals 3 and 4, especially the predictors of chil-drens school achievement and performance. Studies addressing the firsttwo goals have been reported extensively. Participation in the CPC Pro-gram for different lengths of time, for example, has been found to be sig-nificantly associated with higher levels of school achievement into adoles-cence as well as with higher levels of consumer skills, enhanced parentinvolvement in childrens education, lower rates of grade retention andspecial education, lower rates of early school dropout, and lower rates ofdelinquent behavior under a wide range of model specifications (Reynolds,1994, 1995, in press; Reynolds &amp; Temple, 1995, 1998; Temple, Reynolds, &amp;Miedel, in press; Reynolds, Chang, &amp; Temple, 1998). Childrens patternsof school and social adjustment over time (Reynolds, Mavrogenes, Hage-mann &amp; Bezruczko, 1993; Reynolds &amp; Bezruczko, 1993; Reynolds &amp; Gill,</p></li><li><p>349Reynolds</p><p>1994; Reynolds, in press) as well as several methodological contributions(Reynolds, 1998a, 1998b; Reynolds &amp; Temple, 1995; Reynolds, Mavro-genes, Hagemann, &amp; Bezruczko, 1996) also have been reported.</p><p>The CLS is particularly appropriate for addressing these and other goalsfor two major reasons. First, the CLS is one of the most extensive and com-prehensive studies ever undertaken of a low-income urban sample. Datacollection began during childrens preschool years and has continued ona yearly basis throughout the school-age years. Multiple sources of datahave been utilized in this on-going study, including teacher surveys, childsurveys and interviews, parent surveys and interviews, school administrativerecords, standardized tests, and classroom observations. Thus, the impactof a variety of individual, family, and school-related factors can be investi-gated. I am aware of no other longitudinal studies of this size and scope,especially for minority children growing up in the central city.</p><p>A second unique feature of the CLS is that although the project concernschild development, an emphasis is given to factors and experiences that arealterable by program or policy intervention both within and outside ofschools. Besides information on early childhood intervention, informationhas been collected on classroom adjustment, parent involvement and par-enting practices, grade retention and special education placement, schoolmobility, educational expectations of children, teachers, and parents, andon the school learning environment. In the studies reported in this issue,my colleagues and I investigate three factors of particular importance tochildren in central cities: school mobility, parent involvement in childrenseducation, and parent and teacher expectations, as well as associated homeand school influence as revealed through personal essays. Indeed, each isan underinvestigated topic in urban education. We also report on positiveeffects of the CPC Program for these and other factors.</p><p>The Social Context of Urban Education</p><p>The social context surrounding urban schools in high-poverty settings likeChicago presents adversities to children and families than can impair posi-tive development and limit the impact of positive early experiences such asthose provided in early childhood interventions. Wilson (1996) describesthese all too common adversities as follows:</p><p>Children of the inner-city ghetto have to contend with public schools plaguedby unimaginative curricula, overcrowded classrooms, inadequate plant andfacilities, and only a small proportion of teachers who have confidence in theirstudents and expect them to learn. Inner-city ghetto children also grow up inneighborhoods with devastating rates of joblessness, which trigger a whole se-ries of other problems that are not conducive to healthy child developmentor intellectual growth. Included among these are broken families, antisocialbehavior, social networks that do not extend beyond the confines of the ghetto</p></li><li><p>350 Journal of School Psychology</p><p>environment, and a lack of informal social control over the behavior and activ-ities of children and adults in the neighborhood. (pp. xvxvi)</p><p>Viewed from a larger historical perspective, the stark social and economicconditions of inner-city environments in Chicago emanate from commu-nity transformations that began at least three decades ago. The ChicagoFact Book Consortium (1995) described some of these economic and insti-tutional changes for the North Lawndale community area on the westsideone of the major neighborhoods in which children and families fromthe CLS have livedas follows:</p><p>The newest residents of North Lawndale encountered a series of communitycatastrophes after 1960, which resulted in a stagnated economy and a deterio-rating social fabric. First were the riots which came after the King assassinationin 1968, during which substantial parts of the Roosevelt Road shopping stripwere destroyed by fire. After that storeowners moved when insurance compa-nies either canceled their policies or prohibitively increased their premiums.Another severe blow fell when the International Harvester Companys tractorworks closed in 1969, with the loss of an estimated 3,400 jobs.</p><p>The riots, coupled with the racial turnover in North Lawndale between 1950and 1970, purportedly resulted in the loss of 75% of its business establishmentsand 25% of its jobs. The department store and other retail facilities burnedout or closed on Roosevelt Road were never replaced.</p><p>During the 1970s, 80% of the area manufacturing jobs disappeared, as Ze-nith and Sunbeam . . . electronics factories shut down, and a Copenhagensnuff plant was closed. The closing of an Aldens catalogue store was a signalevent in a sequence that wiped out 44% of the retail and service jobs in NorthLawndale. The downturn continued through the 1980s when Western Electricstarted closing down, to disappear completely by 1985. (p. 107)</p><p>It was within contexts such as this that the CPC Program began in 1967 infour west-side sites. The CPC Program is a center-based early interventionthat provides comprehensive educational and family-support services toeconomically disadvantaged children from preschool to third grade. Theprogram was established through funding from Title I of the landmark Ele-mentary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. It is the second oldest (afterHead Start) federally funded preschool program in the United States andis the oldest extended early childhood intervention. The program is de-signed to promote childrens academic success and to facilitate parentinvolvement in childrens education. The studies that follow examine someconsequences of participation.</p><p>Summary of Study Contributions</p><p>In the rest of this overview, I provide a brief summary of the distinguishingfeatures of the studies described in this special issue. The major themes thatcut across the articles are (a) the investigation of factors and experiences</p></li><li><p>351Reynolds</p><p>that have been underresearched for urban low-income children, and (b)the identification of school- and family-related predictors of and contribu-tors to childrens educational achievement that can be a focus of preven-tion and promotion programs. Child outcomes were assessed in early tomiddle adolescence (ages 12 to 16).</p><p>In School Mobility and Achievement: Longitudinal Findings From anUrban Cohort, Judy Temple and Arthur Reynolds (this issue) imple-mented two unique study features. First, unlike most previous studies,school mobility was defined longitudinally from school records as the num-ber of school moves between kindergarten and seventh grade. Second, thestudy took into account the predictors of school mobility prior to when themove takes place, including early academic achievement. This is rarely everdone in studies of the effects of mobility (Mehana, 1997), but is essentialfor obtainin...</p></li></ul>


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