Effects of Early Intervention on Intellectual and Academic Achievement: A Follow-up Study of Children from Low-Income Families


  • This research was supported by NICHD Grant 5 ROI HD21782 awarded to Craig Ramey, PI and Frances Campbell, Co-PI. The authors wish to thank Drs. Mark Everson, Barbara Boat, and Donna Bryant for consultation on the conceptualization of the study and Drs. Margaret Burchinal and Ronald Helms for assistance with data analysis. Without the tireless efforts of Lisa B. Lau, Katherine Polk, Carrie D. Bynum, and Marie Butts, this work would have been impossible. The merits of the study owe much to these individuals; its shortcomings and any factual errors are the responsibility of the authors. In particular, we want to express our appreciation to the early adolescents and their families who took part in the study.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Frances A. Campbell, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB #8180, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599–8180.


Follow-up data, obtained 4–7 years after intervention ended, are presented for the Carolina Abecedarian Project, an experimental study of early childhood educational intervention for children from poverty families. Subjects were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 intervention conditions: educational treatment from infancy through 3 years in public school (up to age 8); preschool treatment only (infancy to age 5); primary school treatment only (age 5–8 years), or an untreated control group. Positive effects of preschool treatment on intellectual development and academic achievement were maintained through age 12. School-age treatment alone was less effective. Results generally supported an intensity hypothesis in that scores on cognitive and academic achievement measures increased as duration of treatment increased.