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IES Grant

Title: Causal Effects of the Kindergarten Transition Intervention
Center: NCER Year: 2018
Principal Investigator: Justice, Laura Awardee: Ohio State University
Program: Early Learning Programs and Policies      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years (07/01/2018 - 06/30/2022) Award Amount: $3,299,995
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R305A180004

Co-Principal Investigator: Jiang, Hui; Logan, Jessica; Purtell, Kelly

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impacts of the Kindergarten Transition Intervention (KTI) on children's academic and social-behavioral development during preschool, their adjustment to kindergarten, and their trajectories from preschool to the end of first grade. Kindergarten transition practices are prominent in federal and state policies and there is a need for rigorous studies of the impact of transition practices on children's kindergarten readiness skills. The research team will implement KTI and evaluate the impact of the intervention on child, family, and teacher outcomes. The proposed study addresses a gap in the literature by examining the effects of KTI for children transitioning from center-based preschool programs into kindergarten within the public schools.

Project Activities: The researchers will investigate the short- and long-term effects of KTI on children's academic and social-behavioral skills, and connections between teachers, parents, and the community. They will recruit and randomly assign 100 center-based preschools to treatment or control conditions. Transition Coordinators will work with teachers and parents to implement several kindergarten transition practices. The researchers will collect data from parents and teachers, conduct classroom observations, and assess two cohorts of children during their prekindergarten year and follow the children into kindergarten and first grade to evaluate impacts of the intervention on child outcomes and family-school connections. The research team will also conduct a cost study.

Products: Researchers will produce evidence of the efficacy of the KTI and provide early childhood educators with an important tool for supporting transition to kindergarten. In addition, researchers will provide policy-makers and administrators with evidence-based guidance about kindergarten transition practices and produce peer-reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The study will take place in center-based preschool programs in two large urban areas in Ohio.

Sample: The sample will include 100 early childhood teachers and 1,000 children sampled from their classrooms.

Intervention: The Kindergarten Transition Intervention (KTI) is based on the full suite of kindergarten transition practices manualized in the Successful Kindergarten Transition: Your Guide in Connecting Children, Families, and Schools. The KTI includes 24 specific practices designed to build connections among families and schools. The practices are implemented by a Transition Coordinator and the child's teacher in the preschool year and through fall of kindergarten. The primary mechanisms through which the intervention affects children's kindergarten transition are the development and strengthening of connectionsbetween families and schools, children and teachers, children and peers, and family and community.

Research Design and Methods: Researchers will conduct a cluster randomized trial to evaluate the efficacy KTI. Across two cohorts, 100 prekindergarten teachers and their students will be randomly assigned to the KTI condition or the control group. Each cohort of teachers will work closely with the Transition Coordinator to implement a suite of kindergarten transition activities during the prekindergarten year. The research team will assess participating children in fall and spring of the preschool year, fall and spring of kindergarten, and in spring of first grade. In addition to administering child assessments, the team will conduct classroom observations, and collect data from parents and teachers. The researchers will conduct a cost analysis in year 4 to identify the actual monetary costs of implementing KTI.

Control Condition: In the business-as-usual condition, teachers will implement their prevailing practices.

Key Measures: Outcomes of interest include children's school readiness skills and the connections that are theorized to serve as mediators of KTI, including family-school and teacher-child relationships. Primary measures include standardized direct child assessments of children's language and literacy and math skills, social status in preschool, and kindergarten readiness. Researchers will collect teacher measure data in prekindergarten and parent-level data in prekindergarten, kindergarten, and first grade. Teachers will complete the Teacher-Child Rating Scale to provide information about children's social-behavioral skills. Parents and teachers will complete questionnaires to provide information about parent-school connections, teacher-parent connections, child-teacher connections, child-parent connections, and parent-community connections.

Data Analytic Strategy: Researchers will use hierarchical linear modeling to compare the relative impacts of the KTI versus control condition at the end of the preschool year, kindergarten entry, and end of first grade. They will also examine differences by cohort and potential moderators, such as parental education and child race/ethnicity.