The study was conducted in 14 full-day preschool classes (7 The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool,
7 comparison) in public schools in seven county school districts in Tennessee.
This randomized controlled study, conducted during the 2003–04 and 2004–05 school years,
included three groups: The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool, Bright Beginnings, and a comparison
group. Study authors recruited 36 full-day preschool classrooms in 28 public schools.
The authors then blocked the classrooms into groups of three with similar composite factors
for demographic characteristics (urban/rural, percentages of races other than White) and
achievement (percentage receiving free lunch, reading, language, math, and science achievement
scores). Within each block, one classroom was randomly assigned to The Creative Curriculum
® for Preschool, one to Bright Beginnings, and one to the comparison group. In cases
where a preschool had multiple classrooms, all classrooms in a preschool were assigned to
the same study condition. (Three of the preschools each included two classrooms; the remaining
preschools each had one classroom.)
After randomization, 21 of the 36 classrooms (seven classrooms from each of the three
groups) were randomly selected to participate during the following year in the national PCER
evaluation year of The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool and Bright Beginnings. Fifteen
classrooms remained—these classrooms and the other 21 classrooms would participate in the
local investigator’s pilot-year study during the first year. Following the pilot year, eight of the
21 classrooms originally assigned to participate in the national PCER evaluation year dropped
out, leaving four The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool, five Bright Beginnings, and four
comparison classrooms (attrition of 43%, 29%, and 43%, respectively). These eight dropout
classrooms were replaced by randomly selecting from the 15 classrooms that had not been
selected to participate in the national PCER evaluation year, including two Bright Beginnings,
three The Creative Creative Curriculum® for Preschool, and three comparison classrooms,
restoring the sample of classrooms to seven in each of the three groups. This study of The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool included 14 of the 21 classrooms (seven
The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool and seven comparison), while the remaining seven
were assigned to Bright Beginnings) and a total of 206 children at baseline (101 The Creative
Curriculum® for Preschool and 105 comparison), while the analysis sample included 93 The
Creative Curriculum® for Preschool children and 100 comparison children. At baseline, children
in the study averaged 4.5 years of age; 52% were male; and 80% were White, 11% were
Hispanic, and 7% were African American. In this study, The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool intervention had been in place for a full
year (the pilot year) when the evaluation year started. Although this study used a randomized
controlled trial design to assign classrooms to intervention or comparison conditions in
the pilot year, the authors analyzed data from the second year of implementation (national
PCER evaluation year), when children who had been in the classrooms at random assignment
had moved to kindergarten and a new class of children had replaced them. Thus, the study
has high attrition at the child level and must demonstrate baseline equivalence between the
intervention and comparison group samples of children used in the analyses of outcomes.
An author query was conducted to obtain the study data necessary to establish equivalence
at baseline for one outcome measure in each domain (i.e., unadjusted means and standard
deviations of the outcome measures for the intervention and comparison groups). The pretest
data provided for each domain were used to establish baseline equivalence for the domain.
Baseline equivalence was established from the data provided by the study authors. Baseline
equivalence of the analytic sample of children in the two groups at the end of kindergarten
was not available, so findings from the kindergarten follow-up are not reported.
The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool is a comprehensive preschool curriculum for children
ages 3–5. The curriculum addresses four areas of development: social/emotional, physical,
cognitive, and language. The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool requires the physical space of
the classroom to be structured into 10 interest areas (blocks, dramatic play, toys and games,
art, library, discovery, sand and water, music and movement, cooking, and computers). Curriculum
content includes literacy, math, science, social studies, the arts, technology, and a focus
on skills such as observing, exploring, and problem solving. Teachers conduct ongoing child
assessments employing a Developmental Checklist. In this study, each classroom’s fidelity to
the curriculum was rated on a four-point scale ranging from 0 (not at all) to 3 (high). The average
score for The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool classrooms was 2.14 on this measure.
Teachers in the comparison condition did not use a specific curriculum; rather, each teacher
used a variety of teacher-developed curricula. The specific features of those curricula are not
described in the PCER Consortium (2008) study (Chapter 2). The classrooms in the comparison
group were rated with the same fidelity measure used in The Creative Curriculum® for
Preschool classrooms, which was a four-point scale ranging from 0 to 3. The average score for
the comparison classrooms using this measure was 2.0.
The outcome domains assessed were children’s oral language, print knowledge, phonological
processing, and math. Oral language was assessed with the PPVT-III and the TOLD-P:3
Grammatic Understanding subtest. Print knowledge was assessed with the TERA-3, the WJ-III
Letter-Word Identification subtest, and the WJ-III Spelling subtest. Phonological processing
was assessed with the Pre-CTOPPP Elision subtest. Math was assessed with the WJ-III
Applied Problems subtest, the CMA-A, and the Building Blocks Shape Composition task. For
a more detailed description of these outcome measures, see Appendix B.
Support for implementation
The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool was implemented in intervention schools in fall 2002
(pilot-study year) and in fall 2003 for additional teachers participating in the intervention year.
Intervention group teachers received 2.5 full days of curriculum training prior to the start of the
preschool year and had access to ongoing curriculum implementation support throughout the
school year. Onsite consultation to teachers was provided four times during the school year,
twice by trained Tennessee staff members and twice by curriculum trainers. Consultation visits
typically included a classroom observation, an opportunity for teachers to ask questions about
the curriculum, and implementation feedback from the trainer. No specific additional professional
development activities for comparison group teachers are described.