HighScope is an approach to education used in both public and private childcare centers, preschools, and kindergarten programs, as well as the national Head Start programs in the United States.
HighScope refers to the independent organization created by the late David P. Weikart, designed to continue a research project he began in Ypsilanti, Michigan public schools. That project, referred to as the Perry Preschool Study, was the birth of the HighScope curriculum.
This Perry Preschool Study began in 1962 and included 123 high-risk African-American 3- and 4-year-old children. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, all participants belonged to a low socioeconomic status, with low IQ scores, no mental disabilities, and high risk for school failure. Participants were split into two groups. Fifty-eight children participated in the program and the other 65 children did not. The two groups were matched to control age, socio-economic status, and gender differences.
Data was collected on participants’ academic performance through the age of 27. The results show that those in the HighScope program performed better academically, achieving better grades, higher test scores, and higher graduation rates. The rate of juvenile delinquency was also lower for the HighScope program participants, and upwards mobility in socioeconomic status was more likely as many participants were employed and not dependent on public assistance.
The program used in the Perry Preschool Study, known as active participatory learning, is the cornerstone of the HighScope curriculum. The goal is to not only help children excel in school but to encourage “independence, curiosity, decision-making, cooperation, persistence, creativity, and problem solving—the fundamental skills that help determine success in adult life,” according to HighScope.org.
What to expect from today’s HighScope setting:
- A focus on the “plan-do-review” process, allowing children to make choices about what they will do, execute those choices, and then reflect in order to learn how to set and achieve goals and pursue natural interests.
- Eight main curriculum categories: approaches to learning; social and emotional development; physical development and health; language, literacy, and communication; mathematics; creative arts; science and technology; and social studies.
- Teachers who “share control” with children as equal partners and encourage problem-solving.
- Consistent daily lesson plans that include group activities, self-care, and socialization segments.
- Teachers with varied educational backgrounds—some with associate’s or bachelor’s degrees and some with less formal education other than a high school diploma and HighScope training.
- A classroom with areas designated for specific types of activity, such as art, house, or reading and writing.
Reviewed by Eva Benmeleh, March 2020
- HighScope is an approach to education used in both public and private childcare centers, preschools, and kindergarten.
- HighScope evolved from Perry Preschool Study, a longitudinal study that began in 1962.
- The program teaches fundamental skills that help determine success in adult life.
- At the heart of HighScope curriculum is the “plan-do-review” process which allows children to choose, execute, and reflect on activities.