Jun 22, 2015
A recent study, Early Childhood Education by MOOC: Lessons from Sesame Street by Melissa Kearney and Phillip Levine, has been generating interest and, unfortunately, generalized comparisons with other early childhood programs. As noted by the authors, the study looks at the effects of access to Sesame Street, not at the value of Sesame Street versus Head Start or any other high-quality preschool program. The study measured a small set of relatively short-term outcomes that mirrored some—but by no means all—outcomes from Head Start and other preschool programs.
 
If you’re looking for a silver bullet, it’s not television, but rather a scaffolding of support for skills development from birth to age five. Skill begets skill over the lifecycle of human development and learning. A large body of solid research shows that better outcomes for disadvantaged children come from a combination of health, nutrition, parental education and early learning resources from birth to age five that nurture cognitive and social and emotional development, and provide the foundation for success in school and life.
 
The Carolina Abecedarian Study clearly made this point: it started from birth, incorporated parent education, health, nutrition, early learning and preschool. As such, Abecedarian is the only program that has produced lasting gains in IQ in addition to the better education, social and economic outcomes we see from other programs. More importantly, Abecedarian’s lasting IQ boost played a significant role in reducing chronic disease in males and obesity in females.
 
The solution for promoting school readiness and fostering productive skills isn’t simply planting children in front of the television or tablet. High-quality educational programming can serve as a complement to quality early childhood education, not as a replacement.
by Heckman Equation  |  Apr 29, 2015
    Last week at the Education Writers Association’s 68th National Seminar in Chicago, Professor Heckman outlined a path forward for boosting social, health and economic outcomes and creating a more equitable society...
by Heckman Equation  |  Apr 16, 2015
  This week we thought we’d offer a rare peek behind the scenes at Professor Heckman’s research center. We recently visited the Center for the Economics of Human Development (CEHD), located on the south side of the...
by Heckman Equation  |  Mar 24, 2015
On March 23, Professor Heckman gave the keynote address at the 7th Annual Early Learning Water Cooler Conference in Sacramento. The event, hosted by the Advancement Project and co-sponsored by the California Department of Education, brought...
by James J. Heckman  |  Feb 09, 2015
The following op-ed first appeared in Roll Call on February 9, 2015.   As Congress debates the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act — commonly known as No Child Left Behind—...
by Heckman Equation  |  Jan 21, 2015
  If you watched the State of the Union address, you know that improving the economy, strengthening the middle class and reducing the deficit are national priorities.   Solving these challenges starts with investing...
by Heckman Equation  |  Dec 15, 2014
On Wednesday, December 10, Professor Heckman addressed policymakers, advocates, philanthropists, scholars and members of the media at the White House Summit on Early Education. Below is the transcript of his speech.   White House...
Investing in quality early childhood development for disadvantaged children from birth through age 5 will help prevent achievement deficits and produce better education, health, social and economic outcomes. Such investments will reduce the need for costly remediation and social spending while increasing the value, productivity and earning potential of individuals. In fact, every dollar invested in quality early childhood development for disadvantaged children produces a 7 percent to 10 percent return, per child, per year.
- Professor James Heckman