At-risk preschoolers make progress, but still behind

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Half of preschool children in a recent study of early childhood education in Chicago do not speak English at home, and 40 percent are considered at high risk for educational problems because of family demographics such as poverty, unemployment, single parenthood or parents with less than a high school education. The Chicago Program Evaluation Project studied 700 4-year-olds in Head Start and Preschool for All, publicly funded programs. The study found that a substantial number of children started preschool with below-average vocabulary and math development and made significant progress during the school year, but remained below national averages for all children. The study by Mathematica Policy Research also examined children’s social development, classroom quality and teacher characteristics. The project was conducted in partnership with the Erikson Institute, the city’s Department of Children and Youth Services, and CPS.  Mary Ellen Caron, head of the youth services department, says the city will create committees to craft recommendations on improving preschool programs. For more information on the study, go to Erikson’s website .