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Scaling Up the Implementation of a Pre-Kindergarten Mathematics Curriculum in Public Preschool Programs

Year: 2005
Name of Institution:
WestEd
Goal: Scale-Up Evaluations
Principal Investigator:
Starkey, Prentice
Award Amount: $6,000,000
Award Period: 5 years
Award Number: R305K050004

Description:

Previous Grant Number: R305K050186
Previous Institution: University of California, Berkeley

Co-Principal Investigator: Alice Klein, University of California, Berkeley

Children from low-income families tend to enter kindergarten already behind their middle-class peers in mathematics knowledge; this gap persists through high school. The primary purpose is to improve school readiness and subsequent achievement in math of students from low-income families. The investigators are examining the effectiveness of a pre-kindergarten mathematics intervention implemented at scale across two types of public preschool programs serving low-income children (Head Start and state-funded preschools) in California and Kentucky.

Structured Abstract

Purpose: The primary purpose is to improve school readiness and subsequent achievement in math of students from low-income families. Low-income children enter kindergarten behind their middle-class peers in math knowledge. This gap in knowledge persists through high school. To work on addressing this issue, the investigators plan to examine the effectiveness of a pre-kindergarten mathematics intervention implemented at scale across two types of public preschool programs serving low-income children (Head Start and state-funded preschools) in California and Kentucky.

Setting: Sixty pre-k sites, where "site" refers to a center or school with one or more classrooms clustered at that location. There will be 36 sites in California and 20 in Kentucky, both Head Start and state-funded preschools sites are included in each state. From these sites, 96 4-year-old and mixed 3 & 4-year-old full-day classrooms will be sampled, 48 in CA and 48 in KY.

Population: 960 children from low-income families attending Head Start and state-funded preschools in CA and KY will participate in the study. These programs serve an ethnically diverse population of low-income families. In the California sites, the sample is approiximately 26% African American , 33% Hispanic (, 28% Caucasian, and 5% Asian.

Intervention: The intervention comprises: (1) a classroom component (small-group math activities, math software, and a math learning center), (2) a home component (math activities and materials for families), and (3) a professional development package which includes a trainer-of-trainers model and distance education tools to implement the intervention with fidelity on a large scale and at a distance from the curriculum developer.

Research Design and Methods: The main study is a randomized experiment evaluating the effectiveness of the intervention for enhancing children's mathematical knowledge and school achievement. In Year 1, preschool sites will be randomly assigned to the intervention (N=28) and control (N=28) conditions and internal facilitators will be selected from the participating programs and trained to serve as trainers in the math intervention. In addition, intervention teachers will receive initial training in the math curriculum. A psychometric study will also be conducted to establish the measurement properties of the Child Math Assessment. In Year 2, intervention teachers will be provided with professional development, and they will implement the math intervention in 48 intervention classrooms. In Years 3 and 4, children will be followed into kindergarten and first grade, respectively, and child math assessments will be conducted. Also in Year 3, a sustainability study of the math intervention will be conducted in the 48 pre-kindergarten intervention classrooms with 480 children. These children will be followed into Kindergarten in Year 4. Delivery of the intervention by individual teachers and parents will be measured by implementation logs (classroom and home), parents' identification rates of specific activities sent home to them, monthly fidelity observations (classroom) and computer printouts.

Control Condition: Participants in the control condition will receive their existing classroom curriculum (practice-as-usual). The nature of the math practices in control classrooms will be thoroughly documented via classroom observations and other data collection methods.

Key Measures: Standardized, experimenter-designed, and observational measures of children's developing mathematical knowledge will be employed.

Data Analytic Strategy: The central questions will be addressed within the framework of hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) and growth curve analysis. Three major sets of analyses are planned: (a) comparison of the math curriculum intervention condition to the control condition with regard to increases in math activities in the classroom and children's gain over the pre-kindergarten year on the major outcome variables; (b) comparison of the math curriculum intervention condition to the control condition with regard to children's trajectories over the pre-kindergarten posttest and follow-up kindergarten and first grade measures on the major outcome variables and (c) examination of site, classroom, teacher, and child variables to determine which moderate the intervention effects.

Related IES Projects:A Longitudinal Study of the Effects of a Pre-Kindergarten Mathematics Curriculum on Low-Income Children's Mathematical Knowledge (R305J020026), Closing the SES Related Gap in Young Children's Mathematical Knowledge (R305A080188) and A Randomized Study of the Efficacy of a Two-Year Mathematics Intervention for At-Risk Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten Students (R305A120262)