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Lecture 7


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University of Toronto Scarborough
Health Studies
Jason Ramsay

LECTURE 7: Evaluating Early Childhood Programs June 25, 2012 -what is a systematic review? -a systematic review is a careful analysis of already published data, usually from peer-reviewed journal papers -it is a means of generating useful knowledge, drawing on what has already been published -used to identify effectiveness of treatments, across many trials -used to identify gaps in knowledge -used to inform and shape policy at the government level -quality control: -in a systematic review, quality control is important -exhaustive search of databases -criteria for including research articles is stringent -makes sure that the best science gets evaluated -the procedure is comprehensive and time consuming -also, one can average effect sizes (measures of effectiveness of treatments) and give an overall number of effectiveness -examples: -special clearinghouse for many systematic reviews called the Cochrane Review -other types of reviews called realist reviews can go beyond published science to interview people, and survey other forms of data (newspaper articles, etc. -systematic review of early intervention: -Child Poverty is a major issue in North America -there are clear ethnic differences (only 57% of African American children could recognize letters by entry to kindergarten, as opposed to 75% white kids -There are clear differences in School Readiness on the basis of SES and ethnicity -school readiness/readiness to learn: -school readiness is measured in kindergarten -in Ontario, the Early Development Instrument (EDI) is used -it is a big predictor of achievement in school and in later life -it is comprehensive, measuring 5 dimensions of academic readiness (e.g. cognitive, social, emotional) -interventions are critical because they seek to level the playing field and make learning democratic -they are typically targeted at preschool level children -they are centred in high priority neighbourhoods (e.g. headstart in the USA) -focus on prevention, not rehabilitation -growing focus on the intersection of early education and health outcomes -it was found: -there are many interventions that reach disadvantaged children and families -gains in IQ scores and cognitive abilities -sothey appear to work at improving the cognitive capabilities of kids -better social outcomes in terms of graduation, college and work later in life -big differences in the receipt of health care -what were the gaps?: -evaluations of these programs have not been optimal, from a scientific viewpoint -design weaknesses in the studies limit the conclusions that can be drawn -cant always generalize to the larger population -little evaluation of impact on long term outcomes, like health, and social outcomes -bottom line: the interventions have an effect but how pervasive and important is this effect? -economics of brain development: -Heckman argues that there is a direct correlation between the development of the brain and economic viability -at the individual level AND at the cohort level -individual = personal capital -cohort = collective capital -Heckman argues for cumulative model -basic finding: -there is a correlation between SES or economic level, and achievement -lower SES correlates with a significantly lower level of achievement -however, this result may be independent of IQ meaning IQ is not everything -achievement by SES:-learning and value: -early learning confers value on acquired skills, which leads to motivation for further learning -effective early learning ACROSS the domains of social, emotional and cognitive skills makes later learning more efficient -this establishes a positive feedback loop which drives lifelong learning -importance of non-cognitive skills: -most intervention programs have measured cognitive outcomes -Heckman argues that this is short sighted, as specific non-cognitive skilla predict personal success -uses the Perry Preschool Program as an example: No difference between IQ between treatment and non-treatment groups BUT significant difference in achievement and ability to stay off welfare, own a home and other tangible benefits -primacy of family: -the family is the centre of the childs early years -if the family is stressed than their ability to provide an enriched, caring responsive environment for their child may be compromised -Heckman argues that family support is especially important to ensure proper child development -family v
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