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IES Grant

Title: Improving Teacher Quality to Address the Language and Literacy Skills of Latino Children in Pre-Kindergarten Programs
Center: NCER Year: 2004
Principal Investigator: Buysse, Virginia Awardee: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Program: Effective Instruction      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years Award Amount: $1,467,046
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305M040032

Latino children lag behind their peers when they enter kindergarten and the gap in academic achievement appears to widen with age. The pre-kindergarten period is a critical time for Latino children, many of whom face the difficult task of developing language skills in a new language while experiencing the beginning-to-read process. Very little is known about the effects of pre-kindergarten schooling on Latino children who are English language learners, and teachers are largely unprepared to work with this population. The purpose of this study is to develop and test an intervention designed to improve the quality of teaching practices related to literacy and language learning among Latino children enrolled in North Carolina's More at Four Pre-Kindergarten program for at-risk children.

More at Four currently serves over 10,000 low-income children, of which approximately 20% are Latino children. A total of 60 More at Four teachers and classrooms in which Latino children are enrolled will be recruited and randomly assigned to either a treatment or comparison group; a minimum of 240 Latino four-year-olds and their families will be recruited to participate in this study (120 from treatment and 120 from comparison classrooms).

The professional development intervention consists of three components: (1) acquisition of content knowledge through training institutes, (2) ongoing support from a bilingual consultant to help teachers implement new instructional strategies, and (3) opportunities for reflection and shared inquiry with other teachers through regular community of practice meetings. The content for the professional development activities will be based on Learningames (The Abecedarian Curriculum) and LiteracyGames, a special version of Learningames recently updated and expanded to promote language and literacy skills in early childhood classrooms. Both curricula will be adapted for use with Latino children who are English language learners.

A battery of measures will be administered in early fall and late spring to examine changes in teaching practices, the quality of the literacy environment, and children's developmental growth in language proficiency and literacy. Measures of treatment fidelity will assess implementation of the intervention on three levels: training facilitation, consultation content and process, and classroom teaching practices. The study also will identify a variety of child, family, and program factors that may moderate children's language and literacy outcomes. The overall goal is to provide teachers with the knowledge and skills necessary to facilitate early English language learning and literacy skills among Latino preschoolers who are English language learners.


Book chapter

Castro, D.C., Peisner-Feinberg, E., and Buysse, V. (2010). Language and Literacy Development in Latino Dual Language Learners: Promising Instructional Practices. In O. Saracho, and B. Spodek (Eds.), Language and Cultural Diversity in Early Childhood Education (pp. 65–93). Charlotte, NC: Information Age.

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Buysse, V., Castro, D.C., and Peisner-Feinberg, E. (2010). Effects of a Professional Development Program on Classroom Practices and Outcomes for Latino Dual Language Learners. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 25(2): 194–206.

Castro, D., Paez, M., Dickinson, D., and Frede, E. (2011). Promoting Language and Literacy in Young Language Minority Children: Research, Practice and Policy. Child Development Perspectives, 5(1): 15–20.

Gillanders, C., and Castro, D.C. (2011). Storybook Reading for Young English Language Learners. Young Children, 66(1): 91–95.

** This project was submitted to and funded under Teacher Quality: Reading and Writing in FY 2004.