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How HighScope Got its Name

The official title of the famous Perry study is "The HighScope Perry Preschool Study." People sometimes ask: Why is it called "HighScope?"

HighScope is what the Perry researchers named their education research organization when they set it up in 1970.

Before 1970, the Perry Preschool Study was a project of the public school system in Ypsilanti, Michigan where study founder David Weikart was a school psychologist and director of special education services.


But in 1970 Weikart grew frustrated with his job as an administrator. He wanted to spend more of his time on education research. So he quit his job. His entire special education staff resigned with him. Together they founded the HighScope Educational Research Foundation and brought the Perry research with them.

The name for their new organization was taken from the summer camp that Weikart started in 1963 with his wife and four friends. Weikart wrote in his memoir about why they chose the name HighScope for their camp.

It was January of 1963. The Weikarts and their friends had just purchased a big piece of property in Clinton, Michigan, a rural area outside of Ypsilanti. The property had once been a retreat for nuns, and now the Weikarts and their friends were figuring out how to turn it into a summer camp. And they needed a name.

"This decision occurred at the end of a long evening of heady and serious discussion of purpose and goals, laced with the silliness that only plunging over your head into a venture can produce," he wrote.

"None of us wanted to use an Indian name (as was so typical of many camps), nor did we even want a name with 'camp' in it." This was the 60s, after all. Everything was happening outside the box.

"We considered sensible names: Bridgewater, our location's township name, and Sauk Trail, the name of the old Indian and trapper route from Detroit to Chicago. Playful names were also put forward such as Rusty Bottom."

It was getting late. Everyone was exhausted. Finally one of the men in the group stood up, "raised his now empty glass, and said, 'Let's name it High Scope - "high" to signify our aspiration level and "scope" to signify the breadth of vision we hope to reach.'"

So there it was: a name born in a moment of drunk, exhilarated exhaustion.

And the name stuck.

The organization that continues the Perry Preschool research is still called HighScope. And the preschool curriculum they have been developing over the years bears the same name.

The camp still exists too. HighScope no longer uses the property as a summer camp, but they use it for retreats and conferences.


Back to Early Lessons.