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IES Grant

Title: Examining the Efficacy of Two Models of Preschool Professional Development in Language and Literacy
Center: NCER Year: 2005
Principal Investigator: Clark-Chiarelli, Nancy Awardee: Education Development Center, Inc.
Program: Effective Instruction      [Program Details]
Award Period: 4 years Award Amount: $2,834,272
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R305M050072

Children who come from homes where oral language interactions are sparse enter school at a disadvantage from peers who come from homes where the opposite is true. In addition, many early childhood teachers lack a solid foundation in early teaching and learning pedagogy. Taken as a whole, these conditions warrant providing teachers with early literacy professional development to ensure that young children will benefit from instruction. However, little research has been conducted to rigorously evaluate the impact of different early literacy professional development programs. The purpose of this project is to examine the efficacy of two approaches to implementing empirically based early literacy professional development, Literacy Environment Enrichment Program (LEEP), and Technology-Enhanced LEEP (T-LEEP).

Structured Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to examine the efficacy of two approaches to implementing empirically based early literacy professional development, Literacy Environment Enrichment Program (LEEP), and Technology-Enhanced LEEP (T-LEEP).

Setting: The setting of this study is within three types of programs (Head Start, child care, and non-Head Start, school-districted operated preschools) in the West Virginia Universal Pre-K System located in largely urban areas

Population(s): 2,200 4-year-old children, 110 teachers, and 52 supervisors will participate in the study. West Virginia is one of the poorest states in the nation with 52% of children eligible for free/reduced school lunch and median family income more than $15,000 below the national median. The intervention will be tested in 4 of the state's most needy, largely urban, areas.

Intervention: Two intervention programs will be implemented: LEEP and T-LEEP. LEEP is the traditional, face-to-face, version of the professional development program, delivered in 3 intensive 2-day blocks. Between sessions (6 weeks apart) LEEP instructors make site visits to support implementation, help supervisors problem-solve common issues, and refine supervisors' abilities to analyze and support teachers' literacy-related practices. Instructors are videotaped and given feedback.

A technology distance-learning form of LEEP, T-LEEP, is delivered via interactive television, web-based instruction, and face-to-face interaction over a span of 6 months. If efficacious, T-LEEP would make professional development more accessible to a greater number of preschool teachers.

Research Design and Methods: The study sample will be stratified by preschool program type. Supervisors along with the teachers they supervise will be randomly assigned to LEEP, T-LEEP, or the control condition. Fifteen 4-year-old children per classroom will be drawn. There will be 4 student cohorts. In Year 1, LEEP or T-LEEP courses will be delivered to the treatment groups in Cohort 1 and teacher/child data will be collected. In Year 2, LEEP and T-LEEP teachers and supervisors will receive a second year of intervention and teacher and child data collected. In Years 3 and 4, Cohort 2 teachers will begin the same intervention and data collection will follow the above protocol.

Control or Comparison Condition: Participants in the control condition will have access to the normal district-provided professional development (practice-as-usual). The nature of practices in control classrooms will be assessed using teacher and student measures. Control group teachers will receive training after data collection is completed within their cohort.

Key Measures: Teacher measures will include the Early Language and Literacy Classroom Observation Toolkit (ELLCO). Student measures will include several standardized and observational measures of children's language, literacy, and development. Fidelity of implementation will be analyzed from teacher logs, classroom observations, and videotapes of classroom instruction.

Data Analytic Strategy: A pre-post experimental design paired with qualitative methods will be used to compare language and literacy achievement of children in intervention classrooms with children in control classrooms and to ascertain whether LEEP and T-LEEP differ in their efficacy. Data will be analyzed using linear regression and hierarchical linear modeling (HLM). A final goal of the study is to measure how teachers translate LEEP and T-LEEP into daily language and literacy practices, which will be addressed analyzing in-depth case studies of 12 teachers.

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** This project was submitted to and funded under Teacher Quality: Reading and Writing in FY 2005.