The study took place in 21 full-day preschools in an urban area of New Jersey. All of the preschools in the study had National Association for the Education of Young Children
Thirty-nine classrooms from 21 schools were randomly assigned either to an intervention (21 classrooms from 11 schools) or a comparison (18 classrooms from 10 schools)
group. Before random assignment, schools that had similar characteristics, such as teachers’ experience, school location, or a score on a state report card, were placed in
blocks. Random assignment then was conducted within each block. The study began with 286 preschool children (149 in the intervention group and 137 in the comparison
group). The response rate was 96% in the fall and 92% in the spring of the prekindergarten year. At pretest, the mean age of the children in the intervention group was 4.5
years; 52% were male; 82% were African-American and 18% Hispanic. At pretest, the mean age of the children in the comparison group was 4.5 years; 57% were male;
75% were African-American and 23% Hispanic. Differences between the intervention and comparison groups on these characteristics were not 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.
The curriculum is structured around 9 thematic units, each with 120 lessons plans for large- and small-group instruction. The research team used multiple
sources to assess implementation of the curriculum, including coaching visits, site coordinator ratings, and class observations. This information was used to create a four-point
scale of fidelity from “Not at all” (0) to “High” (3). The treatment classrooms received an average rating of 1.9.
The comparison classrooms used what the study authors described as a “High/Scope approach.” 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.
Implementation of the comparison curriculum was evaluated using the same procedures described for the intervention classrooms. The comparison classrooms received an
average rating of 2.0 (out of 3).
The primary outcome domains assessed were the children’s oral language, print knowledge, phonological processing, and math. Oral language was assessed with the Peabody
Picture Vocabulary Test-III (PPVT-III) and the Test of Language Development-Primary III (TOLD-P:3) Grammatic Understanding subtest. Print knowledge was assessed
with the Test of Early Reading Ability-III (TERA-3), Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ III) Letter-Word Identification subtest, and the WJ III Spelling subtest. Phonological processing
was assessed with the Preschool Comprehensive Test of Phonological and Print Processing (Pre-CTOPPP) Elision subtest. Math was assessed with the WJ III Applied
Problems subtest, the Child Math Assessment-Abbreviated (CMA-A), and the Building Blocks, Shape Composition task. For a more detailed description of these outcome
measures, see Appendix A2.1-2.5.
Support for implementation
The intervention group teachers received four full days of training on the Ready, Set, Leap!® curriculum over the course of the year.