The study was conducted in 18 full-day Head Start preschool classrooms in five Head Start
centers (two centers with 10 classrooms in Georgia and three centers with eight classrooms in
This randomized controlled study, conducted during the 2003–04 and 2004–05 school years,
included an intervention group that implemented The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool and
a comparison group that used teacher-developed curricula with a focus on basic school readiness.
The specific features of the comparison curricula are not described in the PCER Consortium
(2008) study (Chapter 3). Both teachers and children were randomized within the centers.
In 2002–03, the pilot year of the study, 20 teachers (10 in Georgia and 10 in North Carolina)
were grouped by education and teacher certification status and then randomly assigned within
each group to intervention or comparison conditions. Each of the five participating Head Start
centers included both The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool and comparison classrooms.
At the end of the pilot year, researchers dropped two North Carolina classrooms because they
participated in the state’s More at Four program, had degreed teachers, and had high rates of
teacher attrition. In the following year, which was the national PCER evaluation year, children
within each center were sorted into blocks on the basis of gender, disability status, and ethnicity,
and then randomly assigned to either The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool or comparison
classrooms. At baseline, the study included 18 classrooms (nine The Creative Curriculum®
for Preschool and nine comparison) and 194 children (97 The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool
and 97 comparison). The spring follow-up data collection included 171 children (90 The
Creative Curriculum® for Preschool and 81 comparison). Overall attrition at the spring followup
was 11.9%. At baseline, children in the study were 4.5 years of age on average; 46% were
boys; and 85% were African American, 8% were Hispanic, and 3% were White.
Teachers in the intervention group implemented The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool, 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 using a Developmental
Checklist. In this study, each classroom’s fidelity to the curriculum was rated on a four-point
scale ranging from “not at all” (0) to “high” (3) . The average score for The Creative Curriculum
® for Preschool classrooms was 2.11 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 3). Comparison classrooms were
rated with the same four-point fidelity scale used in The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool
classrooms, which ranged from 0 to 3. The average score for the comparison classrooms
using this measure was 1.5.
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
Teachers in the intervention group were in their second year of implementing the program at
the time of the evaluation. The research team provided refresher training to the intervention
group teachers. Four (North Carolina) or five (Georgia) training periods were provided to teachers
in full- or half-day sessions so that teachers in both states received the same total amount
of training. Training topics included choosing and planning in-depth study topics, providing
materials and interactions for content learning, and observation-based assessment of children’s
learning. Training included a mix of lecture, small group projects, video viewing, and
hands-on practical applications. Technical assistance was provided to teachers throughout the