Effects of Preschool Curriculum Programs on School Readiness: Report from the Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research Initiative

Effects of Preschool Curriculum Programs on School Readiness: Report from the Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research Initiative

Effects of Preschool Curriculum Programs on School Readiness: Report from the Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research Initiative

Effects of Preschool Curriculum Programs on School Readiness: Report from the Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research Initiative

Excerpt

Curriculum

The Success for All Foundation (SFA) research team evaluated Curiosity Corner , a comprehensive curriculum for 3- and 4-year-old children that was developed by SFA. The curriculum uses 38 thematic units to cover topics such as family life, opposites, seasons, and nature.

Each thematic unit includes suggested activities that are designed to promote children’s language and literacy, and cognitive, mathematical, social, personal, creative, and physical development. Daily learning activities are built around learning labs, where children explore the theme through hands-on experiences and interaction with teachers. Teachers receive initial training and ongoing professional development support throughout the school year. The curriculum also features a home component, which provides families with a lending library, videos, and the opportunity for participation in classroom activities.

Sample

The SFA research team recruited preschool programs in three different states (Florida, Kansas, and New Jersey). Schools were recruited through phone calls from SFA researchers. The SFA research team targeted districts with SFA schools with preschool classes to fit their two (preschool curriculum types) x two (SFA and non-SFA kindergarten classrooms) study design. Children in the Curiosity Corner and control conditions in the preschool year transitioned into SFA and non-SFA schools during the kindergarten year of the study. The researchers first recruited SFA schools within a district then they asked for recommendations of non-SFA schools to participate in the study. When non-SFA schools with preschool programs were not available, the research team recruited Head Start and day care centers. The final sample included 31 teachers and classrooms. Parents were recruited with assistance from the preschool teachers, and offered an incentive to participate in the study. The average parental consent rate was 63 percent for the SFA-Florida site (61% for the treatment group, 66% for the control group); 77 percent for the SFA-Kansas site (70% for the treatment group, 83% for the control group); and 47 percent for the SFA-New Jersey site (59% for the treatment group, 38% for the control group). Across all three locations, 215 children (105 treatment, 110 control) and parents were recruited. Data were collected on a total of 211 children and 195 parents at the time of the fall assessment.

In the follow-up year of the evaluation, the sample of schools went from 18 in pre-kindergarten to 69 schools in kindergarten. The sample of classrooms went from 31 preschool to 107 kindergarten classrooms. Data were collected on 194 children and 184 parents from the original participant sample.

Children and Families

The children were 4.7 years of age at the time of baseline data collection and half (49%) were male. The sample primarily included African American (51%) and White (28%) preschoolers. The racial/ethnic composition of the sample of children varied based on the geographic location of the sample. Table 5.1 provides additional information on the demographic characteristics of the study sample. At baseline, a higher percentage of boys were in the Curiosity Corner classrooms relative to those assigned to the control group (61% vs. 38%, p < .001).

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