The study took place in 17 preschools in Newark, New Jersey.
Seventeen schools were randomly assigned either to an intervention (N = 8) or a comparison (N = 9) group. The study began with 308 inner-city, low-income preschool
children enrolled in 34 classrooms in these 17 schools. The researchers excluded seven of the 34 classrooms because they included only children with moderate to severe
disabilities. An additional 20 children were lost to attrition, resulting in a final sample of 254 children.
The final sample included 129 children in the intervention group and 125
children in the comparison group. At posttest, the mean age of the children in the intervention group was 4.5 years; 57% were female; and 51% were African-American, 42%
Hispanic, 5% Caucasian, and 2% Asian or other race/ethnicity. At posttest, the mean age of the children in the comparison group was 4.5 years; 53% were female; and 37%
were African-American, 32% Hispanic, 24% Caucasian, and 7% Asian or other race/ethnicity. The difference in the proportion of minority students was statistically significant.
Ready, Set, Leap!® is a prekindergarten curriculum that focuses on developing early reading skills such as phonemic awareness, letter knowledge, and letter-sound correspondence. For the study, the curriculum was integrated into the existing High/Scope framework. According to the developer's website (www.highscope.org), High/Scope is a flexible framework for setting up and managing a preschool classroom. “Active learning” is a central tenet of the approach in which children are encouraged to learn through direct, hands-on experiences. Adults support that learning through scaffolding and interaction, using techniques such as focusing on children’s strengths and problem solving. As in the comparison classrooms, letter names were taught daily. Information on implementation in the intervention classrooms was gathered through several methods, such
as classroom observations, and the authors concluded that the curriculum was not fully implemented in all classrooms.
The comparison classrooms also used the High/Scope framework. As in the intervention classrooms, letter names were taught daily. Although classroom observations were
collected of the comparison classrooms, no information about the implementation of the High/Scope curriculum in these classrooms was provided.
The primary outcome domains assessed were children’s oral language, print knowledge, phonological processing, and early reading/writing. Oral language was assessed with
the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-III (PPVT-III). Print knowledge was assessed with the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) Letter Naming Fluency
subtest and the Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ III) Letter-Word Identification subtest. Phonological processing was assessed with the DIBELS Initial Sound Fluency subtest, the WJ III
Sound Awareness-Rhyming subtest, and the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP) Blending Words subtest. Early reading/writing was assessed with the
WJ III Passage Comprehension subtest. For a more detailed description of these outcome measures, see Appendix A2.1-2.4.
Support for implementation
The intervention group teachers received three days of training on the Ready, Set, Leap!® curriculum over the course of the year.