Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Low birthweight, preschool education, and school remediation

Temple, Judy and Arteaga, Irma and Reynolds, Arthur (2010): Low birthweight, preschool education, and school remediation. Published in: Education and Urban Society , Vol. 42, (2010): pp. 705-729.

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Abstract Studies have documented a strong relationship between low birth weight status and adverse child outcomes such as poor school performance and need for special education services. Following a cohort of over 1,300 low-income and predominately African American children in the Chicago Longitudinal Study we investigated whether birth weight and family socio-economic risk measured at the time of the child’s birth predicts placement into special education classes or grade retention in elementary school. Contrary to previous research, we found that low birth weight (< 5 ½ pounds) does not predict special education placement. Rather, these children (especially boys) were more likely to be retained in grade as an alternative approach to addressing poor school performance. Family socio-economic risk at birth was a significant predictor of the need for remedial services. We also assessed whether a high-quality preschool program offered at ages 3 and 4 can reduce the negative effects of low family SES and birth weight on the need for special education and grade retention. Preschool participation in the Child-Parent Centers was found to reduce the likelihood of school remediation. The effects of preschool were greater for children from families with higher levels of socio-economic disadvantage. The beneficial effects of preschool on special education placement were also larger for boys than girls.

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