As the Twig Is Bent--Lasting Effects of Preschool Programs

By Consortium for Longitudinal Studies. | Go to book overview
cant difference in rates of retention between Micro-Social graduates (32.0%) and a random sample of Vineland school system students (34.7%). However, when a second comparison was made using only Hispanic-surnamed children, 32.8% of the Hispanic-surnamed MSLE children had been retained, as compared to 62.9% of the sample of Hispanic-surnamed children in the general school population.Teachers shifted from initial apprehension tinged with animosity to full- hearted acceptance within 8 weeks. Three teachers requested that their own mainstream children become members of the Micro-Social classroom. Teachers, in their own evaluations taken in the fifth month of operation, reported that all children were speaking in English, although at the outset 55% were evaluated as speaking only Spanish. Teacher ratings on the Learning Effectiveness Scale showed sharp and significant improvement in ratings on each of the three subscales. At a subjective level, teachers, parents, the State of New Jersey, and outside evaluators reacted positively to the Micro-Social classroom environment.Obviously, the results of a single demonstration, with or without a control group, cannot be definitive. It is unfortunate, nevertheless, that the agreed-upon control data was not obtained at the outset of the study, as initially arranged with the State of New Jersey and the City of Vineland. In our effort to assure objectivity and limit any possible tendency toward bias through using our own staff to obtain the measures, we lost an important source of comparison both then and in years to come. In retrospect, it is clear that this error was due to three factors: the failure to appreciate the volatility of state budgets; the very slim control exercised by the State Department of Education over local school districts; and the rapid shift in high-level staff at both the state and local levels. This being stated, we should also recognize that the data we did obtain indicated a far greater improvement than expected in this initial demonstration.
CONCLUSIONS
1. Children with Micro-Social experience showed significant gains in standard tests of language and intelligence, as predicted.
2. Children with Micro-Social experience progressed through the school system as well as the general population of children, as predicted.
3. Hispanic children with Micro-Social experience performed significantly better than Hispanic children lacking Micro-Social experience.
4. A carefully controlled study to evalute the Micro-Social Learning Environment should be made, comparing Micro-Social with other existing methods of preelementary readiness, such as Head Start.
5. Steps should be taken to test methods of generalizing Micro-Social classroom techniques to general education from the elementary through the university level.

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