The University of Minnesota is partnering with School District 65 to implement the Child-Parent Center Education Program (CPC) at District 65 with the assistance of a five-year federal grant under the Investing in Innovation (i3) program. CPC is being implemented this year to serve 200 students in the District’s pre-K education program at the Joseph E. Hill Early Childhood Center, and it will continue to provide services to those students as they move up to third grade at the District’s Title I schools – Dawes, Oakton, Walker and Washington.

CPC was first implemented in the Chicago Public Schools in 1967. Arthur J. Reynolds, the project director of CPC and a professor at the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota, said the i3 grant will enable the program to be “scaled up” to six school districts in Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Dr. Reynolds has been a lead researcher on the long-term effects of the program.

Dr. Reynolds said the program has had positive results because it continues past pre-school to third grade and because of the “synergy” between different parts of the program that include shared leadership with a lead teacher at each school, a dedicated family resource center at each school that provides family outreach and parenting skills, a professional development system supported by the Erickson Institute, and low student-teacher ratios coupled with a teacher’s aide in each classroom.
Ms. Fogelberg said the CPC program builds on several other programs in place at District 65. Several years ago the District started the “Smart Start” program to engage families as partners in their child’s education by cultivating a relationship with those families beginning in pre-school and continuing until their child reaches third grade, she said.
In addition, the District is a participating partner in Evanston Community Foundation’s program, “Every Child Ready for Kindergarten, Every Youth Ready for Work.”

“The CPC program expands on these efforts with additional tools that include a family resource center in each participating Title I school and professional development for teachers through a lead teacher (coach) position and through a partnership with the Erickson Institute,” said Ms. Fogelberg in a memo presented to the School Board.
A 1996 study conducted by Dr. Reynolds and Judy A. Temple analyzed the effects of the CPC program on students who participated in CPC from pre-K through second or third grade. Their report concluded, “Although students in the study came from the poorest neighborhoods in Chicago, the follow-on groups [those who participated through second or third grades] performed better than the average Chicago student in both reading and math in grade 3. The grade 7 test scores of the follow-up group were just below the citywide average.”

The study also found that the CPC students scored lower than the national average in both subjects at grades 3 and 7.

In 2011, Dr. Reynolds reported the results of a longitudinal study that compared how CPC participants did by the time they were 28-years old with persons in a control group. The report found that persons who participated in the CPC program for 4 to 6 years had completed more years of schooling (12.21 vs. 11.95), had a higher high school completion rate (82.7% vs. 77.2%), a higher on-time high school graduation rate  (48.6% vs. 31.3%), a higher rate of post-secondary school degrees (9.5% vs. 8.3%), higher salaries ($11,822 vs. $10,942), a higher percentage of having health insurance (75.7% vs. 69.6%), a lower rate of substance abuse (14.3% vs. 16.2%). For those who were in the program 5 or 6 years, they had a lower rate of arrest for violence (13.4% vs. 20.8%).

 “The grant is an opportunity for us to enhance the kind of programs and services that we believe will give youngsters the best possible chance of success,” said Superintendent Hardy Murphy. He thanked the Evanston-based organizations that agreed to provide matching funds for the program: Northwestern University, Evanston Community Foundation, Foundation 65, Lewis-Sebring Family Foundation, and the Finnegan Family Foundation.

District 65 will receive a total of $500,000 under the five-year i3 grant. Dr. Reynolds emphasized, though, that his team wanted to work toward making the program “sustainable” in Evanston beyond just the 2012 cohort. “We want to think about ways to sustain and even expand the program further into the community,” he said. “We’re committed to making this ongoing.”

The program is also cost-effective, said Dr. Reynolds. “For every $1 invested in the CPC program, pre-K to third grade, the return on investment is $9 per dollar invested, in a lot of cost/benefit work that we’ve done,” he said.

He said he would report annually on the progress of CPC to the School Board.

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...