The study, which was conducted in low-income neighborhoods in Chicago, followed 1,539 children, mostly African American, born in 1979-80. Nine hundred of the families sent their 3-4-year-old kids to the Chicago's federally-funded Child-Parent Center Education Program, and the rest attended full-day kindergarten but no preschool.
After tracking the children to age 28, researchers found that those who had attended preschool were 28% less likely to develop alcohol or other drug problems or to wind up in jail or prison in adulthood, compared with kids who did not go to preschool. What's more, their odds of being arrested for a felony were cut by 22% and they were 24% more likely to attend a four-year college. Incomes in adulthood of those who attended preschool were also higher than those for the children who did not.
Researchers emphasized, however, that it's the quality of the preschool, not its mere existence, that is likely responsible for these remarkable findings.
"Just funding preschool doesn't mean it's going to be effective," Arthur Reynolds, director of the Chicago Longitudinal Study, told Time. "You have to follow the principles of quality," including consistent lessons in listening, math and reading preparation, and other school readiness techniques.
(image via: http://www.whyboysfail.com)