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IES Grant

Title: Assessing the Potential Impact of a Professional Development Program in Science on Head Start Teachers and Children
Center: NCER Year: 2005
Principal Investigator: Clark-Chiarelli, Nancy Awardee: Education Development Center, Inc.
Program: Effective Instruction      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years Award Amount: $1,367,500
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305M050260

Co-Principal Investigator: Jess Gropen

English language learners and students from low-income homes perform lower in science on average than their peers. Researchers will develop and test the potential efficacy of a professional development program in science, Foundations of Science Literacy (FSL), on Head Start teachers and children in the Boston area of Massachusetts.

Structured Abstract

Purpose: This project will design, pilot test, refine, and retest a credit-bearing program, Foundations of Science Literacy on Head Start Teachers and children.

Setting: Four stable Head Start programs in the Boston, Massachusetts area that share a strong commitment to improving outcomes for young children have been selected to participate in this project.

Population(s): All programs have student populations that are almost entirely (90-100%) low income and heavily (22-50%) English language learners (ELLs).

Intervention: The Foundations program has two main components that will be given over a 6-month period: a) 8 face-to-face instructional sessions that build teachers' pedagogical content knowledge in the physical and life sciences; and b) 1 1/2-hour mentoring sessions that will support teachers as they master science content and inquiry-based methods. The mentoring will include coaching, reflective documentation (videotaping teacher instruction), and collaborative inquiry (teacher study groups).

Research Design and Methods: The sample will consist of one cohort of 72 Head Start teachers. The teachers will be randomly assigned to intervention and control groups. Child data will also be collected on the preschool children in the classes of 42 of the teachers. Approximately 420 students will participate in the study stratified by whether or not they are ELLs and distributed between the intervention and control groups. The study will use a pre-post experimental design. Fidelity of implementation will be monitored. In-depth case studies of teachers and ELL students in 5 classrooms will be conducted in year-2 to examine the effects of the intervention on student engagement and classroom participation. Classroom observations and teacher interviews will be included.

Control or Comparison Condition: The control group will get whatever professional development they would normally receive.

Key Measures: Child and classroom data will be collected using a set of rigorous standardized measures. Because there are no existing assessments of science teaching and learning at the preschool level, the study will develop direct assessments for this purpose.

Data Analytic Strategy: Linear regression, hierarchical linear modeling (HLM), and qualitative measures will be employed.

Project Website:

Related Project: Assessing the Efficacy of a Comprehensive Intervention in Physical Science on Head Start Teachers and Children (R305A090114)

** This project was submitted to and funded under Teacher Quality: Mathematics and Science Education in FY 2005.