The Follow Through program was originally funded by a 1967 amendment to Title II of the Economic Opportunity Act. The amendment authorizes “A program to be known as Follow Through focused primarily upon children in kindergarten or elementary school who were previously enrolled in Head Start or similar programs and designed to provide comprehensive services and parent participation activities” and was intended to sustain and build upon gains made by low-income children in Head Start. In February, an advisory committee chaired by Bank Street College Provost and Dean of Faculties Gordon Klopf issued a preliminary report containing its recommendations for Follow Through. The committee concluded that even when a Head Start experience was a positive one, it was often not enough to “ameliorate the cumulative effects of deprivation over the years of early childhood.” In order to succeed, Follow Through must meet the physical, psycho-social and instructional needs of children. A successful Follow Through program would require the cooperative participation of parents, staff and state and local educational agencies. Follow Through was originally conceptualized as a comprehensive service program similar to Head Start.
In 1968, Follow Through was redesigned as a research and development program. A number of colleges, universities, educational laboratories and researchers that had developed successful approaches to early childhood education were invited to sponsor communities within the program. Each institution presented their model and communities selected the approach that most closely met the needs of the children in the community. The chosen institution provided teacher training, curriculum materials, evaluation and other services to help the community implement and evaluate that approach in the classroom. As part of the planned variation design, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare contracted with different agencies to coordinate a long range study of Follow Through and evaluate the effectiveness of the models.
The Bank Street College approach to early childhood education was known as the developmental-Interaction approach. This approach was based on two guiding principles; first, that curricula be individualized based on the child’s stage of development, second, that children learn through interaction. The goal, as defined in a working paper on the Bank Street Approach to Follow Through, “is to enable each child, in his initial years of schooling, to build a positive image of himself as a learner.” Over the course of the project, Bank Street served as Follow Through sponsor for numerous schools in the fourteen communities represented here. Rather than integrate Project Follow Through into an existing division of Bank Street, such as the Research Division or the Field Services Division, it was decided to create a new division for Follow Through. Division directors included Elizabeth Gilkeson, Lorraine Smithberg and Dick Feldman.
Scope and Content Note
Record Group 11 Follow Through (approximately 64 linear feet) documents the activities of the division of Follow Through at Bank Street College. It is divided into subgroups based on the locations of the communities using the Bank Street Follow Through model. Materials from the program as a whole and audio-visual materials are each contained in their own subgroup. The records span the time period from 1955 to 1994, with the bulk of materials created between 1967-1994. Access to certain records may be restricted.