by Cathy L. Watkins
Project Follow Through, originally conceived in 1967 as a social action program to extend Head Start into the primary grades, became an educational experiment aimed at finding effective methods for educating disadvantaged children. Follow Through, in effect, created a national learning laboratory, providing a unique opportunity to study the effectiveness of a variety of educational methods. The results indicated that the Direct Instruction model and, to a lesser degree, the Behavior Analysis model provided viable solutions to the problem of teaching disadvantaged children. Yet the results of the Follow Through evaluation have been virtually ignored by the educational establishment. This paper presents a case history of Project Follow Through and examines the factors that have led the educational establishment to ignore teaching methods that are effective in raising the academic achievement of disadvantaged children.