The study took place in 22 high-quality pre-K centers in north, west, and south Philadelphia, including four school-based centers and 18 community-based providers. The centers were located in high need, low-income areas. Forty-two percent of classrooms were Head Start classrooms and five classrooms were part of School District of Philadelphia universal pre-k program.
The average student was 4.3 years old at the start of the school year and about 8 percent were identified by their teachers as English Learners.
The intervention group received the Blueprint for Early Literacy curriculum supplement, which aims to improve language and literacy skills through play-based instruction. The curriculum, which was implemented throughout each school year, is coupled with instructional practices structured around three key elements: (1) Message Time Plus, a daily practice where teachers brainstorm, plan, and write text in front of children and then read the text aloud, (2) Intentional Read Aloud (IRA), a daily practice where teachers model fluent reading and facilitate discussions with children before, during and after reading the text, and (3) Power of Three, promoting a motto of “take care of yourself, each other, and our classroom” as a tool to promote a classroom culture of responsibility and engagement. Specifically, teachers shift away from focusing on classroom rules and towards shares classroom responsibilities. As part of the program, teachers participate in professional development and are provided with daily lesson plans, more than 100 children’s books, and 10 structured and sequential theme guides. The curriculum can either be used on its own or as a supplement to an existing curriculum. In this study, for instance, the intervention group received Blueprint alongside Creative Curriculum.
In both the comparison and intervention conditions Creative Curriculum was the adopted core curriculum except for one center in the intervention condition which was using Acero's Ready to Shine and one in the comparison condition which was using HighScope.
Support for implementation
Blueprint implementation was carried out with the support of the Children’s Literacy Initiative (CLI). CLI provided ongoing professional development and training for all lead and assistant pre-K teachers during three half-day trainings. During these sessions, teachers were introduced to Blueprint, the two instructional approaches at the core of the program (Message Time Plus and Intentional Read Aloud), and the concepts of the Power of Three. CLI also provided content-focused coaching during which each lead teacher was paired with a coach who provided 20 hours annually of in-person, content-focused coaching. Coaching was tailored to the needs of each teacher and generally geared towards increasing understanding of the curriculum and confidence and comfort with the curriculum.