The study occurred in one county, but other details about the location of the study are not provided. Over the course of the study period, children participated in regular summer activities and kindergarten. Children in the intervention group participated in Kids in Transition to School program activities delivered in center- or school-based classrooms to groups of 12-15 children with approximately 1 teacher for every 4 students. Parents of children in the intervention group attended meetings in these same locations, at home, or by phone.
Participating children were 5 years and 3 months old on average at the start of the study, which began in the summer before participants were to enter kindergarten. The children were receiving services from the county's Early Education and Early Childhood Special Education agency, and had been rated by the agency as having a behavioral difficulty. They were identified as being at risk for behavioral problems based on the Early Screening Project scales on Critical Events, Aggressive Behavior, and Maladaptive Behavior. The children all spoke English. None of the children had severe auditory or visual impairment, had an IQ below 70, were in foster care, or were receiving full-time summer services from the county agency. About three-quarters of the children were boys, and about 70 percent were white and 14 percent were Latino. About 60 percent had a development delay, about 30 percent had a communication delay, and 10 percent had Autism. The families' median annual household income was between $25,000 and $40,000.
The Kids in Transition to School program was delivered during the 2 months prior to kindergarten entry and in the 2 months following the start of kindergarten. The curriculum aimed to improve school readiness, and especially early literacy skills, among children receiving early childhood special education services for developmental disabilities or delays. The curriculum was delivered in a separate classroom environment (either in school or at a center) from where the children may have attended pre-kindergarten or kindergarten, and focused on early literacy skills, prosocial skills, and self-regulatory skills. Skills were introduced at circle time sessions and daily activities were designed to reinforce the skills taught. The program was delivered by a lead teacher and two assistant teachers in groups of 12-15 children, with a teacher-student ratio of approximately 4:1. In the eight weeks prior to the start of the school year (the school readiness phase), children received 2 hour sessions twice per week. After the start of kindergarten (the transition/maintenance phase), children received one two-hour session per week. Children also received weekly homework assignments.
Kids in Transition to School also included an 8-session parent group (2 hours every 2 weeks for the duration of both phases) that focused on promoting parent involvement in early literacy and school. Parent group meetings were held at the same time as school readiness groups, or at home or by phone when a parent could not attend. The program included role-plays and opportunities to practice. Parents also received home practice activities.
Children in the business-as-usual comparison condition received services typically offered to children with developmental disabilities in the county. No attempt was made by the researchers to influence the amount of services provided to this group. Over the summer, children in the comparison group received the same amount of non-study related services as those in the intervention group.
Support for implementation
The teachers and parent facilitators for the Kids in Transition to School program completed a 40-hour standardized training program. Each student group consisted of 12-15 students and was led by one teacher and two assistants. Each parent group was led by one facilitator and one assistant.