Carolina Abecedarian Project and the Carolina Approach to Responsive Education (CARE), 1972-1992 (ICPSR 4091)

Published: Dec 8, 2004

Principal Investigator(s):
Craig T. Ramey, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; James J. Gallagher, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; Frances Campbell, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; Barbara H. Wasik, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; Joseph J. Sparling, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Version V1

The data come from two consecutive longitudinal studies on the effectiveness of early childhood educational intervention for children at high risk for developmental delays and school failure. The projects are the Abecedarian Project and a related study, the Carolina Approach to Responsive Education (CARE). Combined, the two studies test the hypothesis that child care, home visit, and home school resource interventions can enhance cognitive and academic outcomes for children at risk for school failure due to factors such as poverty, low maternal IQ, or low parental education. The study is a prospective randomized trial with participants from low-income families either participating in the planned "treatment" groups or serving as untreated controls. All have been followed from birth to adolescence. These studies provide the only experimental data regarding the efficacy of child care interventions that began during early infancy and lasted until the child entered kindergarten. In addition, the data allow for tests of the efficacy of intervention during the primary grades. The Abecedarian Project recruited children born between 1972 and 1977. At entry to school, half of the children within each of the two randomized preschool groups were randomly assigned to receive a home school resource teacher program during the first three years of elementary school. Children recruited for Project CARE (Carolina Approach to Responsive Education), however, were born between 1978 and 1980 and randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups: child care plus home visits, home visits only, or control. All Project CARE children assigned to either the child care plus home visit or home visit only groups also received the home school resource teacher treatment during the first three years of elementary school. Essentially, three educational treatments were provided: educational child care from six weeks to school entry, home visit from six weeks to school entry, and home school resource services during the child's first three years of school. They varied in terms of intensity and orientation. The child care treatment was essentially child-centered and offered the most intensive exposure to education. It involved the child receiving child care at the child development center from infancy until entry to kindergarten. The home visit and home school treatments were less intensive and were family-oriented, emphasizing the role of the parent as a change agent in the child's development. Participants were tested based on four different measurement scales: maternal measures, quality of the family environment, cognitive assessment, and academic achievement. The maternal measures include variables such as marital status, maternal and paternal age, education, and family socioeconomic status. The cognitive assessments include the Bayley Scales of Infant Development at 3, 6, 9, 12, and 18 months, the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale at 24, 36, and 48 months, the McCarthy Scales of Children's Abilities at 30, 42, and 54 months, the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence at 60 months, and the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised (WISC-R) at 6.5, 8, 12, and 15 years. Some of the tests were administered in only one study for a particular age. These include the Mental Development Index (MDI) at 3 and 9 months and WISC-R at 15 years (Abecedarian only). Some achievement tests such as Peabody Individual Achievement Test (PIAT) were administered in the fall and spring of the first two years of public school (kindergarten and first grade if the child was at grade level both years) for the Abecedarian Project. The Woodcock-Johnson was administered in the fall and spring of the Abecedarian child's third year of school, in the summer following their seventh and tenth years of school, in the fall and spring of the Project Care child's first three years of school, and in the summer following their seventh year of school.

Ramey, Craig T., Gallagher, James J., Campbell, Frances, Wasik, Barbara H., and Sparling, Joseph J. Carolina Abecedarian Project and the Carolina Approach to Responsive Education (CARE), 1972-1992. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2004-12-08.

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United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Carolina Institute for Research on the Early Education of the Handicapped

Southeastern United States

The codebook is provided by ICPSR as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file. The PDF file format was developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated and can be accessed using PDF reader software, such as the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Information on how to obtain a copy of the Acrobat Reader is provided on the ICPSR Web site.

Children at risk for school failure due to factors such as having a teenage mother, parents with less than a high school education, and families with very low incomes who lived in or around a small city in the Southeast United States.

Interviews with parents, observations of the families, individually administered cognitive and academic achievement tests, and extraction from school records.

survey data

In the Abecedarian study, 109 of 122 participants agreed to their random assignment and enrolled a child. In one family with twins, one sibling was admitted, giving 111 children in the base sample. In the CARE sample, 64 of 65 eligible families agreed to their random assignments. The sample included two sets of twins giving a base sample of 66 children born to 64 families. The combined original base sample thus consisted of 177 children born to 173 families. Subsequently, one Project CARE child died and was replaced with no data added to the database. The archived data file thus contains 176 subjects, 111 from ABC and 65 from CARE. In Year 3 the response rate was 85 percent. In Year 7, it was 92 percent and in Year 10 it was 94 percent.

Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, Home Stimulation Instrument, Bayley Scales of Infant Development, McCarthy Scales of Children's Abilities, Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised, Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales, Peabody Individual Achievement Test, and Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery



2004-12-08 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.