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Evaluation Studies of the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance

Even Start Classroom Literacy Interventions and Outcomes (CLIO) Study

Contractor: Westat

Background/Research Questions

The Even Start Family Literacy program was first enacted in 1988 as Part B of Chapter 1 of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). Even Start supports integrated family literacy services to help break the intergenerational cycle of poverty and illiteracy. Even Start's funding ($66.5 million in FY 2008) serves those families identified as the most in need of family literacy services in their community.

Two previous experimental studies of Even Start showed that the program had no statistically significant impacts on child or parent literacy. One of the hypotheses for these results was that the instructional content was not of sufficient quality to produce effects. Thus, the CLIO Study tested two research-based, literacy-focused early childhood and parenting education curricula. The study examined the following two key research questions:

  • Is the combination of research-based, literacy-focused preschool and parenting curricula more effective than existing Even Start services?
  • Do research-based parenting curricula that focus on child literacy add value to the CLIO preschool curricula?


Two curriculum developers were competitively chosen to participate in CLIO, and each was responsible for implementing two versions of their intervention: a research-based, literacy-focused preschool curriculum and an intervention that combined their preschool curriculum with a research-based parenting curriculum focused on child literacy. 120 Even Start projects were randomly assigned to receive one of the four CLIO curricula or to participate in a control group that continued to provide their pre-CLIO instructional services.

The CLIO study collected a year of baseline data on each participating project prior to implementation of the interventions and then measured impacts over two implementation years. CLIO assessed children's early literacy skills and parents' literacy and parenting behavior, observed instruction in the preschool and parenting education classrooms.

Cost/Duration: $33,072,062 over 6 years (September 2001–September 2007)

Current Status: The final report was released in September 2008 (see

Key Findings:

  • Although there were positive impacts on instructional supports for literacy, child social competence, and parenting skills, the CLIO curricula did not have statistically significant impacts on the child language development and literacy outcomes.
  • The CLIO parenting curricula did not significantly add value to the CLIO preschool curricula with respect to child outcomes.