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IES Grant

Title: A Research Partnership to Improve the Quality of Pre-K Classroom Practices
Center: NCER Year: 2018
Principal Investigator: Kamata, Akihito Awardee: Southern Methodist University
Program: Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships in Education Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (07/01/2018–06/30/2020) Award Amount: $399,966
Type: Researcher-Practitioner Partnership Award Number: R305H180015

Co-Principal Investigators: Baker, Scott K.; Little, Derek, G.

Partner Institutions: The Early Learning Department of the Dallas Independent School District (Dallas ISD) and the Center on Research and Evaluation (CORE) in the School of Education and Human Development at Southern Methodist University.

Purpose: The purpose of the research partnership is to systematically improve pre-K classroom quality through professional development (PD) that Dallas ISD provides to instructional specialists (i.e., coaches) and pre-K classroom teachers. Dallas ISD is investing substantial resources into systematic efforts to improve early childhood for Dallas-area children. The partnership will focus on improving the quality of PD in the Instructional Support domain of the Classroom Assessment Scoring System and differentiating PD for pre-K teachers based on need in all three CLASS domains: (a) Emotional Support, (b) Classroom Organization, and (c) Instructional Support. The partners will collect data and conduct analyses to examine associations between professional development, pre-K classroom quality and child outcomes.

Partnership Activities: The Dallas ISD–CORE partnership was established in 2013. The research team will maintain the partnership by ensuring that all project activities involve a CORE and Dallas ISD staff member, and participating in regular project meetings to make sure that project activities remain on track. In Year 1, the partners will develop improvements in PD in the Instructional Support domain and differentiate PD in all three CLASS domains for coaches and pre-K teachers based on need. In Year 2, the partners will implement and test the impact of the proposed PD changes on pre-K classroom quality and child outcomes.

Setting: The project will take place in Dallas Independent School District, Texas.

Population/Sample: The sample will include approximately 247 pre-K programs, 620 classrooms, 620 pre-K teachers, and 41 instructional specialists. The student sample will include approximately 10,000 racially and ethnically diverse pre-K students.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will conduct descriptive and inferential analyses within and across years. Within-year analyses will focus on change in pre-K quality during the year. Across-year analyses will focus on year-to-year changes in classroom quality and child outcomes. In both types of analyses, the research team will develop indicators of PD quantity and quality and examine their associations with classroom practices and child outcomes. Data analyses will take into account the nested and cross-classified structure of the data.

Outcomes: At the end of the project, the partnership will result in a revised PD system with expected improvements in the Instructional Support domain and a PD differentiation approach for Pre-K teachers based on need. Partnership activities will inform K–2 policies and practices to help the district achieve its goal of having an integrated pre-K–grade 2 system.