WWC review of this study

Creative Curriculum with Ladders to Literacy: University of New Hampshire. In Effects of preschool curriculum programs on school readiness (pp. 65–73)

Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research (PCER) Consortium (2008). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Research, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

  • Randomized controlled trial
     examining 
    105
     Students
    , grade
    PK
No statistically significant positive
findings
Meets WWC standards with reservations

Reviewed: March 2013

Mathematics achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Building Blocks Shape Composition Task

Ladders to Literacy vs. None

Posttest

Preschool children;
104 students

N/A

N/A

No

--
More Outcomes

Child Math Assessment- Abbreviated (CMA-A) Composite score

Ladders to Literacy vs. None

Posttest

Preschool children;
105 students

N/A

N/A

No

--

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Applied Problems subtest

Ladders to Literacy vs. None

Posttest

Preschool children;
105 students

N/A

N/A

No

--
Oral language outcomes—Substantively important negative effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Test of Language Development - Primary III (TOLD-PIII): Grammatic Understanding subtest

Ladders to Literacy vs. None

Posttest

Preschool children;
105 students

8.38

9.45

No

--
More Outcomes

Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test III (PPVT-III)

Ladders to Literacy vs. None

Posttest

Preschool children;
104 students

88.24

95.43

No

-15
 
 
Phonological processing outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Preschool Comprehensive Test of Phonological and Print Processing (Pre-CTOPPP) Elision subtest

Ladders to Literacy vs. None

Posttest

Preschool children;
105 students

8.55

9.1

No

--
Print knowledge outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Letter-Spelling subtest

Ladders to Literacy vs. None

Posttest

Preschool children;
105 students

N/A

N/A

No

 
 
11
More Outcomes

Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III): Letter-Word Identification subtest

Ladders to Literacy vs. None

Posttest

Preschool children;
105 students

N/A

N/A

No

--

Test of Early Reading Ability III (TERA-III)

Ladders to Literacy vs. None

Posttest

Preschool children;
105 students

N/A

N/A

No

-12
 
 

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • Female: 56%
    Male: 44%
  • Race
    Asian
    0%
    Black
    11%
    Native American
    0%
    Not specified
    19%
    White
    39%
  • Ethnicity
    Hispanic
    31%
    Not Hispanic
    69%

  • Rural, Suburban, Urban
    • B
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    • Q
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    • V
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    • T
    • W
    • X
    • Z
    • Y
    • a
    • h
    • i
    • b
    • d
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    • f
    • c
    • g
    • j
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    New Hampshire

Setting

The study was conducted in 14 Head Start classrooms in New Hampshire.

Study sample

This randomized controlled study, conducted during the 2003–04 and 2004–05 school years, included an intervention group that implemented The Creative Curriculum® supplemented by the Ladders to Literacy curriculum and a comparison group that implemented just The Creative Curriculum®. In 2002–03 (the study’s pilot year) the researchers recruited 12 Head Start classrooms to participate in the study, grouped them according to whether their respective Head Start programs are located in a rural or urban area and are full- or half-day programs, and then randomly assigned the classrooms within each group to intervention and comparison groups. In the study’s evaluation year (2003–04), 11 of the pilot-year classrooms and nine of the teachers were retained. One comparison classroom was replaced with another classroom from the same center, and two additional classrooms were randomly assigned to the intervention and comparison groups. This resulted in a sample of 14 classrooms (seven intervention and seven comparison). For most of the classrooms, the intervention condition had been in place for a full year when the evaluation year started. After parental consent was obtained, the sample included 123 children at baseline; 105 children were included in the final sample (54 intervention and 51 comparison). Baseline equivalence between the analytic sample of intervention and comparison children was established from data on baseline outcome measures provided by the study authors. At baseline, children in the study averaged 4.6 years of age, 44% were male, 39% were Caucasian, 31% were Hispanic, and 11% were African American.

Intervention Group

Intervention classrooms implemented Ladders to Literacy as a supplementary curriculum to The Creative Curriculum®. Researchers selected 27 of the 60 Ladders to Literacy activities for implementation in the classrooms assigned to the intervention group. Teachers were trained to implement those 27 language and literacy activities across three domains (print/book awareness, metalinguistic awareness, and oral language). In November and December 2003, teachers were expected to implement nine activities (three from each of the three major domains). For the rest of the preschool year (January to May 2004), teachers were expected to continue implementing those nine activities and to implement an additional three to six activities each month so that, by May 2004, teachers had implemented all 27 activities. Fidelity of implementation was assessed by conducting observations from December 2003 through April 2004 in the classrooms assigned to use the Ladders to Literacy curriculum. Researchers used a global fidelity measure to rate the overall fidelity with which the curriculum was implemented. On a four-point scale (0 = “not at all” to 3 = “high”), classrooms implementing the Ladders to Literacy curriculum were rated in the high-medium range (2.71).

Comparison Group

The comparison group implemented The Creative Curriculum® without Ladders to Literacy. The Creative Curriculum® is a comprehensive curriculum for 3- to 5-year-old children. It addresses four areas of development: social/emotional, physical, cognitive, and language development. The curriculum required 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. Time was also allotted for outdoor activities. The 10 interest areas were designed to address curriculum content such as literacy, math, science, social studies, the arts, and technology, as well as process skills such as observing, exploring, and problem solving. The Creative Curriculum® included a developmental checklist that teachers were asked to use in ongoing assessments of child progress. Fidelity of implementation was assessed by conducting observations from December 2003 through April 2004 in the classrooms assigned to use The Creative Curriculum®. Researchers used a global fidelity measure to rate the overall fidelity with which the curriculum was implemented. On a four-point scale (0 = “not at all” to 3 = “high”), classrooms implementing The Creative Curriculum® were rated at the medium level (2.0).

Outcome descriptions

The outcome domains of oral language, print knowledge, phonological processing, and math were assessed with standardized measures. Oral language was assessed with the PPVT-III and the Grammatic Understanding subtest from the TOLD-P:3. Print knowledge was assessed with the TERA-III and the WJ-III Letter-Word Identification and Spelling subtests. Phonological processing was assessed with the Elision subtest from the Pre-CTOPPP. Math was assessed with the WJ-III Applied Problems subtest, the composite score from the CMA-A, and the Building Blocks Shape Composition test. Pretesting was done in the fall of the preschool year, and posttesting was done in the spring of the preschool year. Trained research staff administered all assessments, which were conducted in English. For a more detailed description of these outcome measures, see Appendix B.

Support for implementation

All 14 teachers (both intervention and comparison) received at least one day of training on The Creative Curriculum® from a staff member at Teaching Strategies, Inc. Intervention group teachers received Ladders to Literacy training in September 2003, and ongoing training on a monthly basis throughout the 2003–04 school year. In addition to the September 2003 training, six intervention group teachers received training on Ladders to Literacy activities in September 2002.

 

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