Academic journal article Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin

Exploring the Relationship between Success on Evaluations of Preschool Programs and Children's Pre-Academic Progress

Academic journal article Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin

Exploring the Relationship between Success on Evaluations of Preschool Programs and Children's Pre-Academic Progress

Article excerpt


An outlined curriculum and assessment, administrative support, parent involvement, and high-quality staff are essential for a successful preschool program. In Nebraska, in order to receive state and federal funds, school-based preschool programs must meet Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) Rule 11 guidelines, which ensure compliance in parent participation, program quality, and implementation of research-based curricula and assessments. In addition, Rule 11 requires that overall program quality be assessed through use of the Early Childhood Evaluation Rating Scales-Revised (ECERS-R), an evaluation tool that measures the day-to-day quality of preschools and childcare programs.

Implementation of ECERS-R requires expending additional funds for many hours of training. Therefore, the goal of this study was to determine the effectiveness of the ECERS-R. Specifically, the goal was to compare the physical, social, cognitive, and language outcomes of targeted Title I preschool students of students in programs that met ECERS-R requirements to those of students in programs that did not meet these program-quality standards.

Results Matter. In 2006, NDE initiated the Results Matter preschool movement in order to be in compliance with federal regulations. Results Matter examines three areas: student outcomes, parent involvement, and program quality. Quality programs are essential for young children to grow and gain skills; however, personnel in many public school systems struggled to implement all the components of this huge undertaking. Prior to the 20062007 school year, Nebraska school district personnel implemented their own curricula and assessments to monitor student progress within school-based preschool settings. The variance was great among districts and classrooms within districts. Part of the Results Matter initiative involved implementing quality curricula and assessments statewide. A task force led by the NDE worked to identify research-based curricula and assessments that would show student progress for young children. The National Association for the Education for Young Children, a national early-childhood organization, claimed that the curriculum should be a plan to guide children to explore and gain concepts that are developmentally appropriate (Horn, 2009; Zan, 2005). The task force wanted to find curricula and assessments that met the needs of the wide range of preschool learners in the varied school districts within the state.

The task force members agreed that a quality curriculum focuses on physical environment, social-emotional environment, and the teaching-learning environment. Quality curricula also are based on the skills that typically-developing students should obtain, allowing educators to provide modifications for children with disabilities.

NDE's task force selected three curricula that school districts could choose to implement: High-Scope COR; Creative Curriculum; and Assessment, Evaluation, Programming Systems (AEPS; Horn, 2009; Zan, 2005). These curricula were researchbased and provided developmentally appropriate activities and assessments. Each of these curricula also provided an online system to assist teachers in analyzing, organizing, and reporting data to other team members, parents, and administrators.

Assessments are not new to early-childhood educators. For many years, teachers have used assessments to validate placement of children in special education. However, these tools have not traditionally been used for ongoing assessment and monitoring of students' day-to-day growth. Hojnoski, Gischlar, and Missall (2009) reported many early-childhood educators believe that data collection is essential. However, many preschool educators have not collected data consistently, nor do they know how to use the data they have collected. Not surprisingly, then, when NDE introduced the curriculum and assessment components of the Results Matter initiative, many staff members felt anxious and nervous. …

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