Khara L. Pence, University of Virginia
Laura M. Justice, University of Virginia
Tse-Hua Shih, University of Virginia
Alice K. Wiggins, University of Virginia
Abstract: Examining implementation fidelity is crucial to ensuring the internal and external validity of all scientifically-based research studies, including effectiveness studies of early childhood curricula as in the Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research (PCER: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences). In this study, we investigated fourteen preschool teachers' fidelity in implementing a comprehensive language-rich classroom curriculum, the Language Focused Curriculum (LFC, Bunce, 1995; Rice & Wilcox, 1995) as compared to seven teachers who maintained their prevailing preschool curriculum. Our questions were: (1) To what extent do treatment teachers exhibit curriculum fidelity following a three-day professional development workshop? (2) To what extent do LFC fidelity ratings differentiate classrooms of trained and untrained teachers? (3) To what extent does curriculum fidelity change over the academic year for Treatment teachers? Fidelity to the LFC was assessed in fall, winter, and spring of the academic year using a 47-item observational checklist measuring implementation structure and processes in seven subscales. Results demonstrate that: (1) Treatment teachers achieved fidelity to the majority of LFC subscales following a single professional development workshop, with the exception of implementation processes. (2) Treatment teachers demonstrated greater adherence than Control teachers on implementation structure only. (3) Over the academic year, Treatment teachers exhibited a mid-year slump in all curriculum structure subscales and then recovered in spring to meet or exceed fall fidelity ratings. This research suggests the need for intensive, sustained professional development in order to promote fidelity in curriculum processes, including teachers' use of language facilitation techniques.