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IES Grant

Title: Miami-Dade County Partnership for School Readiness and Early School Success
Center: NCER Year: 2014
Principal Investigator: Shearer, Rebecca Awardee: University of Miami
Program: Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships in Education Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (8/16/2014 – 8/15/2016) Award Amount: $399,606
Type: Researcher-Practitioner Partnership Award Number: R305H140140

Co-Principal Investigators: Miranda, Elias; Goraki, Peter

Partnership Institutions: University of Miami; Miami-Dade County Public Schools; The Children's Trust; Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe

Purpose: The goal of this project was to create a partnership to address the school readiness skills and early school achievement of children who attend M-DCPS. The project unfolded in three major phases. First, the partners created an infrastructure and carried out joint needs assessments. The goal was to build a sustainable researcher-practitioner partnership that uses available data to conduct descriptive analyses to inform M-DCPS practice and policy needs in the short-term. Second, the partners conducted descriptive analyses of school readiness data, using data available once agreements for integrating data were in place. In the third phase, the partners shared findings that have been used to support policy action and future research.

Project Activities: This partnership examined the school readiness skills and early school success of children who transition from a range of early care and education settings into the Miami-Dade County public schools. The University of Miami (UM) and the Miami-Dade County Public School (M-DCPS) jointly led the partnership, with partners from The Children's Trust, Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe (ELC), the Miami-Dade Community Action Agency & Human Services (CAHSD)/Head Start Program (HS), and the Children's Registry and Information System (CHRIS). M-DCPS staff generated the research questions and co-led all research-partnership activities for the project, with UM as lead research partner. UM's Department of Psychology researchers brought analytic and content expertise that informed the work of the partners and contributed to long-term implementation of high-quality research, assessment, and intervention practices. Researchers at The Children's Trust, an independent special district of local government established in 2002 by Miami-Dade County voters, played a central role in developing data-sharing agreements across organizations; providing data on the quality of child care programs and the qualifications of the workforce participating in Quality Counts; linking the community-level EDI data on kindergartners' vulnerabilities across five developmental domains with data collected by other partners and American Community Survey (census tract) data; providing geographic mapping services to visualize needs and results; and engaging in data analysis and dissemination of the collective findings for the collaborative. Prior to the project, The ELC collected data for 12,000 preschool children in Miami-Dade and shared these data for use in the proposed project, thus enabling ELC to follow children from their programs into M-DCPS elementary schools and evaluate whether their efforts are related to improvements in student outcomes. CAHSD/HS and CHRIS facilitated agreements for sharing data and participated in the Advisory group to inform policy directions of the partnership. CAHSD provides Head Start (HS) services to over 6,500 low-income children throughout the county in more than 360 classrooms. CHRIS is a specialized UM Center of the Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resources System.

Key Outcomes:

  • The project team established a process for linking or aligning children's early childhood and M-DCPS kindergarten experiences which allowed the partners to share information with agencies that provide early childhood services (the Children's Trust, the ELC, CAHSD/HS, and CHRIS), so that findings can inform program practices.
  • The partnership successfully obtained funding from The Children's Trust, the RW Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the University of Miami's Laboratory for Integrative Knowledge (U-LINK) and the Miami Foundation to support the partnership work..

Structured Abstract

Setting: This project took place at M-DCPS, and data from early childhood programs or providers in Miami-Dade County.

Sample: Participants included a cohort of children in M-DCPS kindergarten during the 2014–2015 school year. At the start of the project, M-DCPS served a population of 23,758 kindergarten children across 269 elementary schools and 1,514 classrooms. Approximately 69 percent of the students were Hispanic, 22 percent Black, 74 percent eligible to receive free/reduced lunch, and 41 percent identified as English language learners. Of this group, at kindergarten entry, approximately ten percent were identified with disabilities. A set of early childhood enrollment and assessment data then collected by each early childhood partner was shared for children who participated in preschool programs and who entered M-DCPS kindergarten in the 2014-2015 school year. For the primary data collection, 235 teachers (95 prekindergarten and 140 kindergarten teachers) across 36 schools were recruited to participate in the collection of survey, interview, and classroom observational data.

Education Issue: Addressing the school readiness needs of children living in low-income communities as they transition into kindergarten is a critical, national policy issue. In Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS), the achievement gap among students in the district – and the disparities at kindergarten entry between low-income children and their more socioeconomically advantaged peers – is a central concern. These disparities are of particularly of concern in Title 1 Schools and Education Transformation Office schools (ETOs), where students have historically high failure rates. These disparities persist even though a large proportion of children who enter M-DCPS prekindergarten and kindergarten programs had previously received educational services through community-based preschool programs. Prior to this project, formal research partnerships among these early childhood educational providers and M-DCPS had not been created. A partnership was established to focus on addressing critical needs to bridge the gaps between prekindergarten and kindergarten to ensure that children are ready for school at kindergarten entry.

Research Design and Methods: This project used descriptive statistics and latent class analysis.

Key Measures: Key measures included school readiness and social and academic outcomes.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research plan occurred in two major phases. In the first phase data from difference sources were linked. The research team also (1) conducted needs assessment of early childhood education and (2) surveyed and observed a small sample of preschool and kindergarten teachers in the Education Transformation Office schools. During the second phase, partners (1) used descriptive analyses to identify the frequency of major categories of preschool experiences; (2) used the needs assessment results to examine where preschool programs located, to identify where programs of high quality are found, and to describe the preschool participation patterns for kindergarteners who enter M-DCPS schools; (3) performed latent class analysis (LCA) models to identify distinct groups (or classes) of children entering M-DCPS kindergarten classrooms on the basis of common patterns for key school readiness indicators; (4) used the school readiness profile groups they identified in the LCA to examine whether the groups were differentially associated with relevant indicators of kindergarten social and academic outcomes; and (5) examined the overlap between preschool participation, community/neighborhood risk, and community-level developmental vulnerabilities.

Products and Publications

ERIC Citations: Find available citations in ERIC for this award here.

Project Website: The Miami-Dade IDEAS Consortium for Children