Does Early Education Have a Long-term Impact?

Evaluation of the long-term impact of a school-based diagnostic and education program for young children and their families

Between July 1996 and January 2002, Judith S. Palfrey, MD, and a research team at Children's Hospital in Boston conducted a follow-up study of the long-term impact of the Brookline [Mass.] Early Education Project (BEEP).

BEEP, the first comprehensive school-based early education program in the country, operated from 1972 to 1981.

In 1996–1997, project staff first explored the study's feasibility. From 1998 through 2001, they conducted "The Brookline Early Education Project Follow-up Study."

The study compared a group of BEEP participants—young adults in their mid-20s and their parents—with a control group of non-participants. Each group contained about 120 people.

Key Findings:

  • Young urban adults who participated in BEEP have higher incomes, more years of education, are more likely to be employed and have better health, less depression and more positive health behaviors than their non-BEEP urban peers.
  • BEEP participants who lived in Boston but attended suburban schools (which all BEEP participants were eligible to do) have higher levels of self-worth, more positive health behaviors and less depression than their non-BEEP urban peers.
  • BEEP appears to have improved all outcomes of young urban adults such that their outcomes resemble those of their economically advantaged suburban peers.
  • BEEP participants who stayed in the program longer are doing more intellectually challenging work than other BEEP participants.
  • BEEP participants in the group with the highest level of services have much better relationships with their parents than other BEEP participants.
  • Almost all (96.8%) mothers would recommend a program like BEEP to their child if he/she became a parent.
  • Mothers felt the home visits were the most important parent support service.