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Persistence and Fadeout

February 21, 2017

The term “persistence” has been in the news recently. Did you know that persistence is a key concept for the impact of early childhood and adolescent interventions? As part of our commitment to continual learning, our research group discussed the topic this month.

We read and discussed Persistence and Fadeout in the Impacts of Child and Adolescent Interventions (Bailey, Duncan, Odgers, and Yu, 2017; http://sites.uci.edu/gduncan/files/2013/06/Fadeout-paper-Submitted-pdf.pdf). The authors discuss the phenomena of “fadeout,” where the positive effects of early childhood education interventions seem to disappear over time. Researchers believe this fadeout often occurs because interventions target skill-building in high-risk populations, but youth in the larger population also learn these skills and “catch up” in their skill development over time. This led the authors of the paper to ask what skills are most likely to persist over time, and suggested these skills may be most appropriate for early childhood education interventions.

The authors identified three key features of interventions and environments that are expected to make the positive effects of interventions persist over time. This “trifecta” includes:

  • skill-building – focusing on building skills that are malleable, fundamental and that would not normally develop without the intervention;
  • “foot-in-the-door” – delivering your intervention at the right time to reduce risk (e.g., avoiding school dropout) or take advantage of a key opportunity (e.g., getting into a good college); and
  • sustaining environments – developing high quality, enriching environment reinforces early skill gains.

The Evaluation Team at Via has more than 50 years of combined experience in helping programs use data to determine the extent their positive program effects are making meaningful differences. To learn more about how the Via team can bring our expertise to your programs, contact us today at 716-362-0627 or info@viaeval.com for a free consultation.

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