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The Heckman Equation

Perry Preschool & Character: Character skills are more important than IQ in driving better life outcomes

Using more than 35 years of data on the Perry Preschool program, Professor James Heckman has shown that quality early childhood education programs for disadvantaged children can dramatically improve outcomes in education, employment and health. A new study by Heckman and co-authors Rodrigo Pinto of The University of Chicago and Peter Savelyev of Vanderbilt University shows how — by developing character skills that increase motivation and reduce negative externalizing behaviors. The findings indicate that those who evaluate early childhood education programs solely on their ability to raise IQ miss the real driver of success: character skills that have far greater impact on achievement and life outcomes.

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