Project I focuses on early childhood programs such as Head Start and Early Head Start. It employs both stage/policy- and child/policy-fit perspectives and largely experimental data to derive and test hypotheses about which combinations of child, family, and child care program characteristics lead to larger child care treatment effects on cognitive and behavioral outcomes for young children. Specifically, the compensatory hypothesis holds that high-quality child care benefits environmentally disadvantaged children; the skill begets skill hypothesis posits the opposite – that the most skilled children profit the most from high-quality education-oriented investments; the protective hypothesis argues that supportive family factors protect at-risk children from the negative effects of low-quality care; and the differential susceptibility hypothesis holds that children with fragile temperaments are at once hurt the most by low-quality care and helped the most by high-quality care. These hypotheses are tested using four experimental and one quasi-experimental intervention projects.  Project I Summary (pdf)  Project I research plan (pdf)

Project II employs a developmental perspective to understand the conditions under which state health education curriculum requirements regarding alcohol, tobacco and other drugs have protective or harmful effects on youth substance use. Developmental theory suggests that the effects of these policies will likely vary with the biological age and personal characteristics of students; characteristics of the students’ school and peer groups; and characteristics of the programs themselves. Our test of these theories will be the first comprehensive quasi-experimental analysis of state curriculum requirements for education on alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Project II Summary (pdf)  Project II research plan (pdf)

Project III develops and applies new methods for examining the distributional impacts of a variety of preschool and school-based policies. Existing intervention work has focused primarily on average impacts, and yet some of the hypotheses tested in Study I lead to expectations that effects will differ for different groups. The new empirical strategies provide estimates of intervention effects across the distribution of each outcome. Interventions include Head Start and pre-kindergarten programs and the provision of vouchers for private schools to poor children.  Project III Summary (pdf)  Project III research plan (pdf)

Project IV addresses the “So what?” question of the possible longer-run consequences of augmenting skills and improving behavior at various points in childhood and adolescence. Specifically, it assesses the extent to which achievement, behavior and attention skills in middle childhood and adolescence are predictive of adult labor market and health outcomes, and of avoiding serious adult crime. This study complements the other three in the project by examining skills and childhood stages targeted by the various education-related interventions they evaluate to determine which matter most for adult well-being.  Project IV Summary (pdf)  Project IV research plan (pdf)