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Appendix A: Table 1 Notes
Whether or not children will be successful students depends greatly on the quality of their experiences in early childhood. Research has demonstrated the value of providing comprehensive interventions for developing the knowledge and skills that prepare children for kindergarten and for closing the school achievement gap for economically disadvantaged students. In addition to health and social-emotional components, recent research has highlighted the need to include strong language, pre-reading, and pre-mathematics components. Head Start is the major federal program designed to promote the school readiness of poor children and to assist them in developing to their fullest potential. The cornerstone of the Head Start approach to promoting school readiness has been the provision of comprehensive services to address childrens cognitive, social-emotional, health and safety needs while strengthening their families and supporting parents participation in their childrens education. With reauthorization in 1998, emphasis was placed on developing childrens language and pre-reading skills. When Head Start first began in 1965, very few states had experience with providing pre-kindergarten programs. Since then most states have begun to offer pre-kindergarten to meet childrens educational needs, as well as provide health and other services to support school readiness. Before the recent passage of No Child Left Behind, which emphasizes greater state accountability for childrens learning in K-12 education, many states recognized that raising levels of school achievement requires investments to improve the quality of childrens preschool environments, especially for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. This report examines the role that states play in comprehensive early childhood education by reviewing:
A previous U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report summarized evidence showing the need to strengthen the language, pre-reading, and pre-mathematics skills of children in Head Start and to better coordinate early childhood programs in order to minimize redundancy, increase efficiency, and improve quality and access.(1) To address these issues, the Administration has proposed targeted enhancements to the Head Start program and has proposed giving a small number of qualified states the authority to coordinate pre-kindergarten and other early childhood programs and services with Head Start. The primary motivation for these proposals is to ensure that children in Head Start, as well as children in other early childhood settings, have the educational experiences they need to become school ready, while continuing to receive the comprehensive services that allow children to benefit from high quality learning experiences.
However, some questions have been raised about whether any of the states are prepared to offer high quality, comprehensive early childhood education and whether states would be sufficiently dedicated to such an effort. The evidence reviewed in this report addresses whether or not states are indeed ready to meet these challenges.
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When Head Start was launched in 1965, few if any states had early childhood programs. Today up to 46 states and the District of Columbia provide funding for preschool.(2) Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia have designed, implemented, and funded their own pre-kindergarten programs on a large-scale.(3) Though eligibility requirements differ across states, most state-funded pre-kindergarten programs give enrollment priority to children whose families have low income, or who are otherwise at risk for poor school achievement.(4)
An increasingly large number of children are being served by state-funded pre-kindergarten programs. Education Week recently estimated that more than 750,000 three- and four-year-old children are served each year,(5) coming close to the 850,000 served by Head Start.
State financial investments in these programs are substantial and have been increasing. States spend more than two billion dollars annually on pre-kindergarten.(6) Even under current fiscal conditions most states are continuing to make pre-kindergarten programs a priority. In fact, one-third of Governors highlighted the importance of early education in their 2003 State of the State addresses.(7)
Though almost every state has pre-kindergarten, about a dozen states account for roughly 80% of the children served(8) and ten states account for two-thirds of dollars spent.(9)
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According to a 2000-2001 survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Educations National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), many publicly funded pre-kindergarten programs offered to children in public schools have qualified teachers, provide access to meals, transportation, and extended day care, and have appropriate class sizes.(10) Specifically, 86% of pre-kindergarten teachers in publicly funded programs had baccalaureate degrees.(11) Seventy-nine percent of schools with pre-kindergarten classes had transportation services, 74% provided meals and 18% offered extended day care. The average number of children per class was 17 (20 is the maximum recommended class size, with a recommended child to adult ratio of 1 to 10).(12) In addition, of the children served, 61% were from families with low income. Thirty-two percent of the classes were full day. The survey included programs that were funded with federal, state, or local dollars or with some combination of public funds; 80% of the programs surveyed were funded with state and/or local dollars. It also included programs devoted exclusively to providing special education services.
The NCES report indicates that, overall, public investments in pre-kindergarten are being used to offer programs that have characteristics associated with quality(13), that programs are beginning to recognize the needs of working parents, and that public pre-kindergarten includes economically disadvantaged children who are at risk for poor school achievement. However, the primary goal of this report is to examine programs that are primarily funded, implemented and administered by the states, and that go beyond providing special education programs to offer broader early education and extended services to children at risk for poor school outcomes. A compilation of data across reports shows that many of these state-funded pre-kindergarten programs meet key indicators of quality.
A nationwide survey conducted by researchers at Yale University that focused exclusively on state-funded preschool programs finds that states can implement good, comprehensive pre-kindergarten programming, and some states are already doing a good job of promoting school readiness.(14) In the survey, states reported on characteristics of their programs, such as teacher-child ratios, class size, teacher qualifications, and parent involvement. These characteristics are widely recognized as indicators of high quality and research has shown them to be associated with positive child outcomes.(15) States also reported on their curriculum standards and comprehensive services in the eight areas mandated by Head Start: nutritious meals, vision and hearing tests, immunization, mental health services referrals, physical health services referrals, dental services referrals, family caseworkers, and home-visits. Survey data were obtained by mail and a telephone update from state-level program administrators. Data were collected initially in 1996(16) and updated in 2000.(17)
While not all states with pre-kindergarten programs are prepared to offer high quality early childhood education and services, the data show that most state-funded pre-kindergarten programs have characteristics that research has linked to positive child outcomes. Moreover, many state-funded pre-kindergarten programs have standards that generally meet or exceed Head Start standards, though there is limited information on whether states monitor adherence to the standards and procedures used to monitor programs.
Recent reports from Education Week(20), the American Federation of Teachers(21), and the Education Commission of the States(22) present data that show a similar picture of state-funded pre-kindergarten programs. For each report, information was collected on several key indicators of program quality. The particular data collected and the methods used varied somewhat across sources. However, all involved gathering information from a state administrator, such as an early childhood specialist, who had knowledge of the program and who was given an opportunity to update the information and correct errors prior to the data being published. Compiling data across these three sources, Table 1 shows states with pre-kindergarten programs that meet at least four of six widely accepted and research-based indicators of quality. (States that provide funding exclusively through supplements to Head Start were not included.) Data were compiled across the three sources in order to obtain the most recent information available across the six indicators. However, pre-kindergarten programs are continually evolving, and thus the overall pattern of findings is more relevant than the data for any particular state program.
(1:10 or better)1
(20 or better)2
(AA or better)3
|Expanded Services4||Parent Involvement5||School Readiness Standards6|
|Kentucky||X||X||BA (birth-K cert.)||X||X||Under Development|
|Louisiana||X||X||BA (ECE)||Under Development|
|Rhode Island||X||BA (ECE)||X||X|
|South Carolina||X||X||BA (ECE)||X||X||X|
|Virginia||X||X||BA (ECE)8||X||Under Development|
|Notes. AA (Associates Degree), BA
(Bachelors Degree), ECE (Early Childhood Education).
See extensive Table notes in Appendix A.
Surveys show that most state-funded pre-kindergarten programs have standards that demonstrate the states plan to offer high quality programs that result in positive outcomes for children. Rigorously documenting the actual results of investments in pre-kindergarten programs is another essential part of program improvement and accountability. States dedicated to offering high quality pre-kindergarten programs are beginning to use a range of research methods to motivate and inform the development of new initiatives and to evaluate program outcomes. Limitations in the methods that have been used to study the effectiveness of state-funded pre-kindergarten programs and track the progress of children who attend state-funded pre-kindergarten programs constrain what can be known about the impact of state efforts on childrens outcomes. However, the data that are available suggest that some states offer programs that are likely to promote childrens school readiness.
The randomized experiment is the strongest research design for determining if a program causes the desired effects. Randomly assigning children either to a group that attends the target program or to a group that does not attend is necessary for knowing whether the program, as opposed to other factors, caused the measured outcomes. As yet, there are no randomized experiments that have been conducted within states to determine whether state-funded pre-kindergarten programs cause positive results for children, including in the area of school readiness. This will be an important next step for states to take in their research. States are increasingly recognizing the importance of randomized experiments in demonstrating the effectiveness of early childhood interventions and are using the results of widely-known and highly regarded randomized studies of early childhood programs and interventions (e.g., the Abecedarian Project, the Perry Preschool Study(23)) to motivate and inform their efforts to develop pre-kindergarten programs and school readiness initiatives. For example,
A well-designed quasi-experiment is an alternative to the randomized experiment when randomly assigning children to different groups may not be practical. In a quasi-experiment, the performance of children who attended the target program is compared to the performance of one or more groups of children who did not attend. The most rigorous quasi-experiments use procedures to ensure that the target group and the comparison groups are as comparable as possible on the range of factors that are known to affect the desired outcomes. For example, level of maternal education is known to affect childrens school readiness; thus procedures should be used to ensure that target and comparison groups have equivalent maternal education levels to rule out the possibility that observed differences in childrens performance are attributable to differences in maternal education. The more rigorous quasi-experiments also measure childrens initial levels of performance prior to the intervention.
a. A recent report of 10 state evaluations shows promising results for state-funded pre-kindergarten.
As of 1998, 10 states had used quasi-experimental designs to evaluate their pre-kindergarten programs. These designs varied in rigor, but each design compared outcomes for children who attended state-funded pre-kindergarten with one or more comparison groups of children that did not attend the program.(28) Not only did study designs vary, but also programs varied in terms of requirements, eligibility and other characteristics. The 10 states include: Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New York, South Carolina, Texas, Washington, and the District of Columbia.(29) Most of the evaluations focused on cognition, language and academic achievement, with a few including measures of social, behavioral, and health outcomes. According to recently published technical analyses of these 10 evaluations by Yale University researchers Gilliam and Zigler,(30) state programs produced either consistently positive results or positive results in some areas of competency and no effects in others. For some areas of competency positive results were often found consistently for all cohorts of children studied.(31) Though research designs do not allow for direct comparisons between state-funded pre-kindergarten programs and Head Start, effect sizes for these quasi-experimental studies of state-funded preschool programs were similar to those reported in quasi-experimental studies of Head Start.(32) (See Gilliam & Zigler, 2001, for more detail on the duration of each study, the number of cohorts studied and the proportion of cohorts with positive outcomes, inclusion of pre-tests, composition of comparison groups, sample sizes, measures, and other aspects of the study designs.)
Key findings from quasi-experiments of state-funded pre-kindergarten
Across the 10 states, the child outcomes measured included cognitive and language abilities, reading and mathematics achievement, behavior problems, child health, attendance, grades, special education referrals and placements, parent involvement and grade retention. Not all states measured outcomes in each of these areas.(33) Many tests of childrens abilities were well-known and technically sound standardized measures, while others were relatively unknown home-grown measures with little information on technical soundness. On balance, the report finds good evidence that states can develop and implement effective pre-kindergarten programs, with children who attended state-funded pre-kindergarten programs having higher scores in several areas compared to children who did not attend the programs. Results were especially consistent for developmental competence, including cognition and language, at the end of preschool and in kindergarten, as well as for academic achievement, reduced grade retention and school attendance in elementary school.
Six states measured cognitive and language outcomes in kindergarten. Three of the states (Florida, Maryland, Michigan) found that scores were higher for children who had attended pre-kindergarten across all cohorts studied. Three states (Kentucky, New York, and the District of Columbia) showed mixed outcomes, with some of the cohorts of children who attended pre-kindergarten showing significantly higher scores, and some not.
Three of the states measured cognitive and language outcomes both at the end of preschool and in kindergarten (Florida, Kentucky, New York). Florida found that, for all cohorts studied, children who attended pre-kindergarten had significantly higher scores at both time points. In Kentucky and New York, all cohorts of children who attended pre-kindergarten had higher cognitive and language scores at the end of preschool, with some cohorts having higher scores into kindergarten.
South Carolina and Georgia measured cognitive and language outcomes only for 1st graders. South Carolina found that children who attended state-funded pre-kindergarten had higher scores on cognitive and language assessments; however, Georgia did not.
Kentucky followed children until 2nd grade and New York followed children until 3rd grade. In both states and for all of the cohorts of children followed, those children who attended pre-kindergarten had higher scores on cognitive and language assessments at the end of preschool and kindergarten. However, by the time they were in 2nd and 3rd grades, the scores of children who attended pre-kindergarten were similar to the scores of children who did not attend pre-kindergarten.
Florida was the only state to administer achievement tests in kindergarten and to administer the tests every year through the 4th grade. For all cohorts studied, children who attended state-funded pre-kindergarten had higher test scores in kindergarten compared to children who did not attend state-funded pre-kindergarten; however, their scores were similar in grades 1 through 4.
Maryland, Texas, and the District of Columbia tested only 3rd graders: Maryland and Texas found that all cohorts studied had significantly higher scores on achievement tests if they attended pre-kindergarten. Scores were not higher for children who attended pre-kindergarten in the District of Columbia.
Georgia tested children at 1st grade and New York tested children at 3rd grade: In both states some cohorts of children who attended pre-kindergarten had higher achievement test scores. In South Carolina, children who attended pre-kindergarten had higher scores on achievement tests in the 1st grade, but not in the 2nd and 3rd grades.
Overall, the report finds that these state-funded pre-kindergarten programs had positive outcomes at the end of pre-kindergarten. Longer-term outcomes were evident in kindergarten and first grade, though they were found less consistently.(36) Though some early positive outcomes persisted into elementary school, there was less success in sustaining early positive outcomes through the early grades. This fade-out of early outcomes is not unique to studies of state-funded pre-kindergarten. Similar results have been reported in other studies of early childhood interventions, including Head Start. Fade-out effects may be the result of problems with study methods or inadequate instruction in kindergarten and the early grades, or both. The trend has been found consistently across studies that included different types of early childhood interventions, outcome measures, and study designs. This pattern of results strongly suggests that attending high quality schools after pre-kindergarten and perhaps follow-on interventions and services are needed to sustain the immediate positive benefits of pre-kindergarten programs.
Considering the pattern of findings together with their limitations (which are discussed in more detail in Section c), it can be said that the positive results for state-funded preschool programs are encouraging.(37) The effect sizes and patterns obtained from these studies were similar to those that have been found for other large-scale preschool programs for low-income children, including Head Start.(38) States vary greatly on nearly every component of their pre-kindergarten programs, and not every state has the will and infrastructure necessary to implement, maintain, and evaluate the success of a comprehensive child and family program such as Head Start.(39) Yet, the evidence suggests that states can implement good, comprehensive pre-kindergarten programming, and on an individual basis some states appear to be doing a good job of promoting school readiness.(40)
b. A more recent quasi-experiment shows that children in Georgias pre-kindergarten program make progress in school readiness.
Since the 10-state study review, a more recent quasi-experimental evaluation of Georgias pre-kindergarten was released. The primary goal of the study was to examine the effect that the Georgia pre-kindergarten program has on childrens cognitive, language, pre-reading, and pre-mathematics skills, social-emotional development and physical health. The study also examined the progress of children who attended Georgia Head Start and Georgia private preschools.(41)
The Georgia Pre-kindergarten program was established in 1993 and is funded by the state lottery. The program requires a 1:10 teacher-child ratio and a classroom size of 20 or fewer children. The program has school readiness standards, mechanisms for parent involvement, and offers extended services. The program began as a means-tested program, but in 1995 was made available to all four-year-olds whose parents chose to enroll them.
The study examined the progress of a representative sample of all children in the program, and also looked in-depth at a sub-sample of children in Georgia pre-kindergarten with disadvantages similar to those experienced by children in Georgia Head Start. The characteristics of classrooms and teachers were examined for all three Georgia programs (Georgia state pre-kindergarten, Georgia Head Start and private preschool), as well as how these characteristics related to childrens scores on school readiness assessments. The evaluation of the effectiveness of Georgias state pre-kindergarten includes a quasi-experimental design that in some ways can be considered more advanced than those used in previous evaluations:
Findings for the Overall Program
Findings for Disadvantaged Children
The study authors explain that because most children in Georgia have some type of preschool experience, it was not practical to compare children in Georgias pre-kindergarten to a group of children without preschool experience in order to assess program effectiveness. Therefore, the evaluation compared children in Georgias pre-kindergarten program to children in Georgia Head Start and private preschool to attempt to determine the contribution that Georgia pre-kindergarten makes to childrens progress. However, children in Georgias pre-kindergarten program differed significantly from children who attended Head Start.(46) When study groups differ greatly, self-selection bias prevents knowing for sure if an intervention caused the observed result or if one intervention produces better outcomes than another.(47) Given differences between the characteristics of children in Georgia pre-kindergarten and Head Start, the evaluation included a sub-study to examine how the progress of the most disadvantaged children attending Georgia pre-kindergarten compared with the progress of a similarly disadvantaged group of children in Head Start. The sub-study used matching procedures and advanced statistical techniques to control as much as possible for self-selection bias.(48)
These procedures resulted in groups that were similar on many, but not all characteristics. Demographics were similar with the exception that disadvantaged children in Georgia pre-kindergarten had mothers with significantly higher levels of education, which is known to impact childrens cognitive performance. The children in the sub-study sample attending pre-kindergarten scored significantly higher on two of six measures (vocabulary and basic skills) upon entering the program than the children attending Head Start.
Sub-study of disadvantaged children: Results for the preschool year(49)
Sub-study of disadvantaged children: Results at kindergarten entry
As of kindergarten entry, the pattern of outcomes showed similar results:
In conclusion, based on these results, the evidence suggests that the Georgia pre-kindergarten program is likely to be providing experiences that help disadvantaged children get ready for school.
c. Enhancements are needed in future evaluations of state-funded pre-kindergarten.
This recent study of Georgia pre-kindergarten and the 10-study review by Gilliam and Zigler are the best data available on how state-funded pre-kindergarten programs affect childrens outcomes. However, the amount, type, and quality of the data limit what we can know about the effectiveness of state-funded pre-kindergarten programs.(50) (Most of these limitations also apply to existing studies of Head Start, though a randomized study of Head Start impacts is underway.) To ensure that data from future evaluations are useful, areas that need particular attention include, but are not limited to, the following:
There are several key issues of concern to policy makers that need to be considered when designing future research. Existing studies have design limitations. For example:
In conclusion, existing research on the results of state-funded pre-kindergarten programs has technical limitations that constrain what can be known about the impact of state-funded pre-kindergarten programs on childrens outcomes. In addition, the studies were not designed to answer some critical questions, such as whether state-funded pre-kindergarten programs produce better outcomes than other programs serving similar populations or whether they reduce or eliminate achievement gaps. Taking these caveats into consideration, for some states there is promising evidence that they can implement pre-kindergarten programs that produce positive outcomes in areas that include cognition, language, and academic achievement, with some positive outcomes, such as improved achievement test scores, reduced grade retention and school attendance, in the elementary grades.
Reports describing the performance of children who attend state-funded pre-kindergarten are available from several states. Unlike randomized experiments or quasi-experiments, these studies do not have designs that are appropriate for comparing outcomes for children who attend state-funded pre-kindergarten with other children. Instead, the purpose is to follow the progress of one or more cohorts of children who have attended the state-funded pre-kindergarten program. Connecticut is an example of a state that has reported on the progress of children, as well as on teachers and classrooms.(51) The Connecticut School Readiness Initiative (CSRI), a partnership between the State Departments of Education and Social Services, seeks to increase the availability of high quality full-day, full-year child care programs for low-income families and to help bridge the school readiness gap between urban students (primarily minority) and their more affluent suburban peers. The initiative primarily targets low-income three to five-year-olds and provides funding for up to two years of services. Local school readiness councils allocate funding to individual programs.
One local descriptive study of classroom quality in South Central Connecticut was used in part to target quality improvement funds. The results showed that between 1997 and 2000, there was significant improvement in classroom quality, with the number of classrooms rated excellent tripling and the percentage of classrooms rated inadequate to minimal dropping from 50% to 8%.(52)
To evaluate the states school readiness initiative more broadly, Connecticut is following two groups of children who attended the state-funded pre-kindergarten across the state in 1998 and 1999.(53) The study assessed pre-kindergarten classroom quality and teacher interactions using standardized and technically sound observations of classrooms. However, the study did not measure the presence of specific interactions known to promote language, pre-reading, and pre-mathematics knowledge and skills. Childrens social skills and very basic school readiness skills were measured using mostly technically sound observations and direct assessments of school readiness.
Results showed that:
Other states, such as Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, and Illinois, have collected data that include but are not limited to: childrens performance on state-wide achievement tests, grades, grade promotion and retention, behavior problems, special education referrals and enrollment, teacher ratings of childrens readiness for kindergarten and readiness for each elementary school grade, and teachers perceptions of which types of early childhood experiences (e.g., Head Start, pre-K, home care, child care) best prepare children for school. Some states have collected teachers classroom observations and compiled portfolios of childrens accomplishments to gauge and exemplify childrens progress. In addition to measuring childrens performance, a few states track the quality of classrooms and teachers.(56)
Enhancements are needed in future efforts to track childrens performance.
Collecting data on the children who attend state-funded pre-kindergarten programs and documenting how children from diverse early childhood settings perform in school are useful for planning new initiatives and improving existing ones. However, it is important to be aware of the technical limitations of the data that need to be addressed in future efforts to track childrens performance and the types of questions that this type of study design cannot answer. For example:
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With heightened accountability for K-12 student achievement, states have become increasingly interested in developing comprehensive and integrated early childhood systems, with most serving ages birth through five. According to a recent in-depth review of the experiences of three states Georgia, Massachusetts, and Ohio in developing a major early childhood initiative, there are several key challenges to overcome in building a coordinated early childhood system. These include: (1) developing a comprehensive vision that includes school readiness, (2) merging funding streams while addressing their regulatory differences, (3) coordinating delivery systems with components that have separate administrators, missions and programs, and (4) tracking progress and measuring the results.(57)
Few supports are available to help states meet the challenges of developing coordinated approaches to early childhood education. However, states are seeking mechanisms that will support their efforts to build more coordinated and effective early childhood systems. Several new approaches have emerged that show states dedication to moving forward with a more comprehensive approach to offering early childhood education programs that will ensure that children are safe, healthy and school ready.
As part of the Presidents Good Start, Grow Smart initiative, states were asked to report in their Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) 2003 Biennial State Plans on the progress they are making in the implementation of early learning guidelines, professional development of child care providers and coordination across early childhood programs. State plans report that significant progress has been made in building early childhood systems. All 32 states with developed or implemented guidelines included the competencies in the areas of language, literacy and numeracy, and 31 of those also addressed social and emotional development. States that have successfully developed and implemented early learning guidelines found that it took time to develop trust and good communication among partners, e.g., state departments of education, Head Start and pre-kindergarten programs, resource and referral agencies, child care providers, and parents. While Good Start, Grow Smart specifically addresses the development of language, pre-reading, and numeracy skills in three to five-year-olds, some states have developed early learning guidelines that address the range of developmental domains including social, emotional, cognitive, linguistic, and physical. Similarly, to ensure that efforts to improve the school readiness of three to five-year-olds do not have unintended negative consequences for younger children, some States have chosen to develop guidelines that span from birth to age five.
With funding from the Foundation for Child Development,the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) initiated an effort in March 2001 to help states increase their ability to create integrated, high quality early childhood education policies, and programs and services to support school achievement for children with and without disabilities.(58) The framework emphasizes quality standards to ensure readiness to learn, comprehensive and integrated early education services, a results-based orientation that involves data management systems, professional development, structures to increase access and equity, and funding approaches that maximize resources.
With foundation funding, the NASBE Early Childhood Education Network provided seed grants to six states. Though the grant amounts were small, they allowed states to move forward with plans for developing a comprehensive and integrated early childhood education system and to evaluate the results. For example,
The hearing will be the basis for an iterative process of formulating state
policy and coordinating early childhood initiatives across programs, such
as providing technical assistance and training to all Head Start, preschool,
and child care providers who serve young children with special needs.
The Trust for Early Education (TEE) was founded in 2002 with a multi-million dollar grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts, which remains the primary sponsor.(61) The goal of the TEE is to help every child, regardless of income or background, gain access to a high quality pre-kindergarten education. A primary focus of their efforts is supporting collaborations to develop comprehensive early childhood education systems. For example, TEE awarded a planning grant to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to support a partnership between DPI and the early childhood community. Wisconsin offers school districts the option of providing four-year-old kindergarten. Almost half of the school districts operate kindergartens with a growing number of districts interested in collaborating with child care and Head Start. Expanding collaborative approaches to preschool is a top priority. With the planning grant, the partnership will: (1) study the communities that have successful collaborative preschool programs; (2) share models with remaining school districts; and (3) build public support for expanding collaborative approaches.
As part of their broader work in early childhood, the Pew Charitable Trusts
supports a network of nonprofit organizations in a small number of states
in developing effective policies to create systems of early
education.(62) Funds go to states with a history
of investment in early education, and leaders interested in working toward
universal, voluntary early education.
The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) has embarked on a set of actions under the Early Childhood and Family Education Initiative to improve coordination across early childhood programs, the quality of early childhood education, and access to pre-kindergarten. The Initiative stems from the Councils policy statement on early childhood and family education, which was adopted unanimously in 1999 and conveys the Councils commitment to ensuring that every child has the opportunity for high quality early care and education and to supporting school systems in each state in reaching high standards of performance and preparing each child to succeed as a productive member of a democratic society. The project is supported by a $240,000 grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts and includes the following activities.
The National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures provide ongoing support through a variety of activities to assist governors and legislators in building early childhood capacity. Projects and activities help build state capacity, provide technical assistance and build leadership.(63)
Some states are undertaking the development of comprehensive early childhood systems that focus on providing high quality early childhood education that links children to essential services needed to promote school readiness. During the past five years, there has been an increase in the number of states developing initiatives to create early childhood systems that address childrens educational, health, and family support needs, as opposed to developing targeted programs or services that focus on only one of these areas.(64)
In developing these systems, states have recognized that developing the language and cognitive skills, social competencies, and physical and emotional health needed for school preparedness begins at birth. Instead of focusing exclusively on three- to four-year-olds, most of these approaches strive for integrated and comprehensive early education and service systems that begin at birth and continue at least through age five. In addition, states are using data from varied sources to inform the design and operation of their programs in order to best meet the needs of the children and families served and to evaluate the results of their efforts.
In 1998, California passed the California Children and Families Act as a result of a statewide referendum known as Proposition 10. The initiative emphasizes the development of an integrated, comprehensive, and collaborative system of information and services for young children and their families. According to state statute, programs should emphasize community awareness, education, child care, social services, health care, and research. The California Children and Families Commission, called First 5 California, provides statewide leadership for the initiative. The Commission funds research projects and model programs, supports a public education campaign, and works with county-level commissions.
Revenues for funding the entire initiative, raised from tobacco taxes, totaled about $690 million in FY 2000 and $626 million in FY 2001; 80% of funds go to the county commissions to meet locally identified needs. On average, in FY 2001 local commissions distributed 15% of their funds, totaling $26,694,394, to support systems change efforts that involve developing county-level capacity to provide integrated, effective, and consumer-oriented systems.
The Commission adopted school readiness as its overarching goal, with the signature project being a $400 million school readiness initiative. The Essential and Coordinated Elements required for every School Readiness Program includes: early care and education with transition strategies, parenting and family support services including literacy and parenting skills, health and social services, and targeted school readiness activities that include early childhood and kindergarten standards and curriculum.
State statute requires an evaluation to determine the impact of the First 5 California Children and Families funds, including assessments of funds expended and progress toward achieving goals and objectives. Other data are used to design and implement the initiative. For example:
In 2000, legislation created and funded KIDS (Kentucky Invests in Developing Success) NOW, an early childhood initiative to address childrens health, safety, and school readiness needs. KIDS NOW supports a range of maternal and child health, family support, and early care and education services. An Early Childhood Development Authority provides oversight and allocates funds to local community councils. A Business Council of local leaders promotes investments in early childhood and a Professional Development Council works to create an education and training system for early care and education providers. The strategy is to build on existing resources, foster public-private partnerships, ensure collaborative planning and implementation, and mobilize communities to implement this comprehensive services program. The initiative is funded with 25% of Kentuckys Phase 1 Tobacco Settlement dollars, which are expected to total $56 million across two years. A team of researchers from the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville are conducting an evaluation of KIDS NOW, though data are not yet available. The evaluation will include information about the characteristics of the children and families served, broad indicators of child and family experiences and outcomes, and details on the characteristics of centers in selected communities.
North Carolina has implemented a variety of strategies to build an effective early care and education system for children from birth to the kindergarten entry.
Smart Start(67) is a public-private partnership that provides funding for comprehensive community-based early childhood education and services and supports collaboration at both the state and local levels. Smart Start began as a governors initiative and was established in statute in 1993. Funding for Smart Start reached $220 million in 2001, but was reduced to $190 million in FY 2002-2003. More than $200 million in private contributions has been raised since the program began. Smart Start funds are administered at the local level through local nonprofit organizations. The primary goal of Smart Start has been to ensure that all children enter school healthy and prepared to succeed.
The first round of awards were given to 12 partnerships (18 counties), and since 1997 all 100 counties in North Carolina have received Smart Start funds, either as a single-county partnership or as part of a multiple-county partnership. By legislative mandate, partnerships spend at least 70% of their funds on child care.
Non-experimental evaluations focusing on three and four-year-olds in Smart Start have been conducted by researchers at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.(68) Overall, findings for Smart Start show that the quality of center-based child care improved in centers that received Smart Start funding, and that children who attended better quality centers entered school with significantly better skills.(69) Specifically,
With funding from the Packard Foundation, Smart Start has established an office to provide technical assistance to other states that are showing extensive interest in designing similar initiatives. North Carolinas More at Four pre-kindergarten program complements Smart Start by targeting at-risk four-year-olds and providing a high quality program of standards-driven, research-based educational pre-kindergarten. Each of the states early childhood programs, including Head Start, child care, Smart Start, and More at Four, aims to link its funding, delivery systems and programming with the others to enhance cooperation and provide better services to children.
Researchers from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill are evaluating More at Four, though results are not yet available. To inform the More at Four initiative, the researchers completed a nationwide 2000-2001 survey of state-funded pre-kindergarten programs associated with public schools to learn more about public school involvement in the other states.(71) Survey respondents, who were early childhood specialists in state departments of education, reported on the ages and numbers of children served, eligibility, administrative location, physical location in the community, state expenditures per child, and state pre-kindergarten program standards that include program duration, teacher-child ratio, class size, teacher qualifications, curriculum and accreditation, and services offered.
Modeled directly after North Carolinas Smart Start, South Carolinas First Steps to School Readiness (First Steps) program is a state-level public/private collaboration that creates local partnerships to assess local needs and engage in comprehensive strategic planning to ensure that all children enter first grade healthy and ready to succeed.(72) The initiative was signed into law in June 1999 and is South Carolinas major state early childhood initiative. As a community-driven effort, county partnership boards include representatives from businesses, faith-based and nonprofit organizations, education, health services, and parents of young children. The partnerships focus on issues, such as early education, health care, quality child care and transportation. Through collaboration, the initiative can better target and intensify critically needed services, assure efficiency of available resources, and eliminate duplicated efforts. Donors, which include business and foundation communities, have to date given more than $8 million.
Goals for First Steps, as stated in the enabling legislation, are to:
State statute mandates an external evaluation of the Fi·st Steps initiative.(73) Since the initiative is in the beginning stages, the first evaluation was designed to study the effectiveness of the implementation, with future studies to include information on child and family outcomes as the program matures. Primary goals of this first evaluation were to determine if First Steps had identified research-based best practices and implemented them effectively to serve the populations for which they were intended. The evaluation data revealed areas of strength and areas for improvement that the state will use to further develop First Step practices and procedures.
In addition to these states that are taking a comprehensive approach to building integrated early childhood systems, other states are taking incremental steps toward building early childhood systems. Examples of states include Massachusetts, Minnesota, Vermont, and West Virginia.(74)
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The goal of this report was to determine whether there is evidence that states can meet the challenge of providing high quality, comprehensive early childhood education and whether states would be sufficiently dedicated to this effort.
The evidence reviewed in this report shows that selected states are already major providers and funders of pre-kindergarten program. Though there is great variation across states, most state-funded pre-kindergarten programs meet widely accepted and research-based quality standards, offer key expanded services to meet childrens health and nutrition needs, and involve parents in their childrens education. Existing research on the results of state-funded pre-kindergarten programs has technical limitations that constrain what can be known about the impact of state efforts on childrens outcomes. In addition, the studies were not designed to answer some critical questions, such as whether state-funded pre-kindergarten programs produce better outcomes than other programs serving similar populations or whether they reduce or eliminate achievement gaps. Taking into account these caveats, there is promising evidence that states can implement programs that produce positive outcomes in areas that include cognition, language, and academic achievement, with some positive outcomes, such as improved achievement test scores, reduced grade retention and school attendance, lasting into the elementary grades. In addition, several states are funding large-scale initiatives to build early childhood systems that serve children from birth through age five. With the assistance of private foundations and state-level organizations, states are seeking and receiving some of the support needed to eliminate barriers to coordination and make even greater strides toward integrating pre-kindergarten, child care, Head Start and programs targeting specific services such as health, safety, and nutrition, into comprehensive early childhood systems. In developing their state-funded pre-kindergarten programs and early childhood systems, some states are using research, conducting research, and building data systems to evaluate their results, design and operate their programs, and make improvements in their approaches. In conclusion, not all states may be qualified to undertake the administration of a coordinated and comprehensive early childhood education system that includes a strong evaluation component to measure results. However, the overall pattern of findings indicates that some states appear ready to meet this challenge.
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1 Source: American Federation of Teachers, At the Starting Line, 2003. Louisiana, Maine, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin recommend rather than require a 1:10 ratio. Georgia requirements apply to public providers. New Jersey requirements apply to the Abbott Preschool Program. North Carolina requirements apply to More at Four. [Return to text]
2 Source: Education Week, Quality Counts 2002, with the exception of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Washington and Wisconsin for which data were missing. Information for these states was obtained from The Education Commission of the States, State Funded Pre-k Profiles. http://www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/27/24/2724.htm [Return to text]
3 Source: American Federation of Teachers, At the Starting Line, 2003. [Return to text]
4 Source: Education Week, Quality Counts 2002. For the purpose of this report, programs were rated as providing expanded services if they offered at least two of the following: (1) meals, (2) health screening/referrals, and (3) family case-workers/home visits. Twenty-five (80%) of these states offered three of the services. Six states (19%) offered two of the services, with all but one providing meals and health screening/referrals. [Return to text]
5 Source: The Education Commission of the States, State Funded Pre-k Profiles. http://www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/27/24/2724.htm [Return to text]
6 Source: American Federation of Teachers, At the Starting Line, 2003. All states that have or are developing school readiness standards, with the exception of Colorado, Ohio and Virginia, have standards that cover language and early literacy, numeracy and early mathematics, early social and emotional competence, motor skills and physical abilities. Colorado has standards in the areas of language and early literacy, and numeracy and early mathematics, and Virginia is developing standards in these areas. Ohio either has or is developing standards in all of the areas except motor skills and physical abilities. [Return to text]
7 New Jerseys court-ordered Abbott Preschool Program meets the widely accepted maximum class size of 20; however, New Jerseys Early Childhood Program Aid (ECPA), with a maximum class size of 25, does not. [Return to text]
8 Florida requires a B.A. degree if the program is school-based or in the Migrant Prekindergarten program. [Return to text]
Iowas Shared Visions Preschool program requires a B.A. with ECE certification if the program is school-based.
Massachusetts requires a B.A. if the program is school-based.
Michigan requires a B.A. with ECE certification if the program is school-based.
Minnesota requires a B.A. with ECE certification and/or Parenting Certification if the program is school-based.
New Jersey requires a B.A if the program is funded by the State Department of Education.
Oregon, Vermont, and Virginia require a B.A. with ECE certification if the program is school-based.
9 Delaware has adopted Head Start Performance Standards. [Return to text]
10 North Carolina has school readiness standards for More at Four. [Return to text]
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(1) Strengthening Head Start, What the Evidence Shows, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, June 2003. http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/StrengthenHeadStart03/index.htm
(2) The American Federation of Teachers, At the Starting Line, 2003. State pre-kindergarten was defined broadly as providing funds for preschool programs that have early childhood education or school readiness as a goal.
(3) Quality Counts 2002: Education Week, No. 17, January 10, 2002. Different surveys show slightly higher or lower numbers of states offering pre-kindergarten depending on the criteria that were used to define state pre-kindergarten. For example, to be included in some surveys the state must have designed, implemented and funded its own pre-kindergarten program while other surveys, such as the one conducted by the American Federation of Teachers, included states that fund pre-kindergarten through supplements to programs not administered by the state, such as Head Start.
(4) The number of states that give priority to low income children varies depending primarily on the definition of state-funded pre-kindergarten used in the survey. For example, The American Federation of Teachers publication, At the Starting Line, reports that 36 programs give priority to low income children, whereas Education Week, Quality Counts 2002 reports that 26 states do.
(5) Quality Counts 2002: Education Week, No. 17, January 10, 2002.
(6) Quality Counts 2002: Education Week, No. 17, January 10, 2002.
(7) Education Commission of the States, 2003 State of the State Addresses: Early Learning, February 2003 (updated March 17, 2003). Complied by Gloria Zradicka. http://www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/42/51/4251.htm
(8) Quality Counts 2002: Education Week, No. 17, January 10, 2002.
(9) Education Commission of the States. Pre-kindergarten Quick Facts, 2003. http://www.ecs.org/ecsmain.asp?page=/html/IssuesEL.asp
(10) National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education. Pre-kindergarten in U.S. Public Schools: 2000-2001. Statistical Analysis Report, March 2003.
(11) This figure includes teachers in the 15% of pre-kindergarten classes that were devoted exclusively to special education. The survey does not give teacher education levels for teachers in general education classrooms or combined general education and special education classrooms.
(12) Data for class size include general education classrooms or classrooms that combine general and special education. Data for classes that provide only special education are not included. The survey did not report teacher-child ratios.
(13) Research showing associations between childrens development and characteristics of program quality such as class size, teacher-child ratio, teacher education and qualifications, and parent involvement is reviewed in a recent report: National Research Council (2001). Eager to Learn: Educating Our Preschoolers (Chapter 4, pp. 128-181). B. T. Bowman, M. Donovan, & M.S. Burns (Eds.), Board on Children, Youth, and Families, Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences Education Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Additional information can be found in National Research Council and Institute of Medicine (2000). From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development (Chapter 11, pp. 314-317). J. P. Shonkoff and D. A Phillips (Eds.), Board on Children, Youth, and Families, Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Head Start Performance Standards require a class size with a maximum of 20 children and a teacher-child ratio of 1:10, which have become widely agreed upon standards. Research shows that smaller class sizes and teacher-child ratios are associated with better child outcomes, but research has not documented that a particular class size or teacher-child ratio is critical.
Though some studies show better childrens outcomes when parents are involved in their childrens education, there is little evidence to show what type of parent involvement is best and which type is best for particular types of children and families.
The National Academy of Sciences conducted a review of research on teacher quality and childrens outcomes for the 2000 report, Eager to Learn: Educating Our Preschoolers. The report recommends that early childhood teachers have bachelors degrees. Whether or not the available data adequately support the reports conclusion and recommendations about the bachelors degree has been debated since the report was published. Most studies on teacher qualifications measure the association between the amount of teacher education and teacher quality or child outcomes. The results show that more education and training is associated with high quality teaching behaviors and positive child outcomes in a range of areas that include language, cognitive, social, and emotional development. These findings hold across Head Start, center-based child care, and child care homes (and for parent care). The few studies that have categorized teacher education into levels and types show that children whose teachers have at least an AA in early childhood education have better outcomes than children whose teachers have a Child Development Associate credential or high school degree. Children whose teachers have at least a bachelors degree attain the highest levels of competency. Some studies find that having a bachelors degree in a child-related field is associated with greater teacher competency and more positive child outcomes, whereas other studies find that having a bachelors degree regardless of the specialization is the better predictor of teachers performance and childrens verbal and cognitive skills.
Research on teacher qualifications and childrens outcomes has not addressed threshold levels for teacher education and training at which point further improvements do not yield additional benefits for children. The incremental change in child outcomes associated with each advance in education and training (i.e., moving from a CDA to an AA or from an AA to a BA) has not been studied. Randomized experiments have not been conducted in which children were randomly assigned to classrooms with teachers who differed in education levels and very few have controlled statistically for family or program characteristics that could affect child outcomes, such as maternal education, and other characteristics of the program or setting, such as level of pay and program administration support for advanced degrees. Very few studies have examined changes in childrens outcomes as their teachers acquire additional education and training across time.
The Child Development Associate (CDA) credential is awarded by the Council for Professional Recognition in Washington DC and funded by the Administration for Children, Youth, and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to improve the quality of child care. This national credential program trains early care and education providers to promote childrens physical, social, emotional and intellectual growth in a center-based, home visitor or family child care program, and to work with parents and other adults to meet childrens needs in these areas.
(14) Gilliam W. & Ripple, C. (in press). What can be learned from state-funded prekindergarten initiatives? A data-based approach to the Head Start devolution debate. In E. Zigler & S.J. Styfco (Eds.), The Head Start debates (friendly and otherwise). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
(15) Bryant, D. M., Burchinal, M., Law, L. B., & Sparling, J. J. (1994). Family and classroom correlates of Head Start childrens developmental outcomes. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 9, 289-309.
Burchinal, M. R., Cryer, D., Clifford, R. M., & Howes, C. (2002). Caregiver training and classroom quality. Applied Developmental Science, 6(1), 2-11.
Cassidy, D. J., Buell, M. J., Pugh-Hoese, S., & Russell, S. (1995). The effect of education on child care teachers beliefs and classroom quality: Year one evaluation of the teach early childhood associate degree scholarship program. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 10, 171-183.
Dunn, L. (1993). Proximal and distal features of day care quality and childrens development. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 8, 167-192.
Howes, C. (1997). Childrens experiences in center-based child care as a function of teacher background and adult:child ratio. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 43, 404-425.
Kontos, S., Hsu, H.C., & Dunn, L. (1994). Childrens cognitive and social competence in child care centers and family day care homes.Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 15, 87-111.
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Early Child Care Research Network (2000). Characteristics and quality of child care for toddlers and preschoolers. Applied Developmental Science, 4, 116-135.
Peisner-Feinberg, E. S., & Burchinal, M. R. (1997). Relations between preschool childrens child care experiences and concurrent development: The Cost, Quality, and Outcomes Study. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 43, 451-477.
Peisner-Feinberg, E. S., Burchinal, M. R., Clifford, R. M., Culkin, M. L., Howes, C., Kagan, S. L., & Hazejian, N. (2001). The relation of preschool quality to childrens cognitive and social developmental trajectories through second grade. Child Development, 72(5), 1534-1553.
Ruopp, R., Travers, J, Glantz, F. M, & Coelen, C. (1979). Children at the center: Summary findings and their implications. In Final report of the National Day Care Study: Children at the center, Vol. 1, Cambridge, MA: Abt Associates.
Whitebook, M., Howes, C., & Phillips, D. (1989). Who cares? Child care teachers and the quality of care in America: Final report of the National Child Care Staffing Study. Child Care Employee Project. Abt Associates.
(16) Ripple, C. H., Gilliam, W. S., Zigler, E., & Chanana, N. (1996). Will fifty cooks spoil the broth? The debate over entrusting Head Start to the states. American Psychologist, 54, 327-343.
(17) Gilliam & Ripple, in press.
(18) The District of Columbia is referred to as a state in the survey and in this report. This study identified fewer states as having pre-kindergarten programs, primarily because of the criteria that were used to define state pre-kindergarten. To be included in this study, the program: (a) must target or be accessible to children from low-income families, (b) provide at least some form of classroom-based, educational service directly to preschool-age children, (c) be implemented and administered at the state level (not state aid for low-income parents to purchase their own preschool services), (d) be primarily state-funded (not state supplementation to programs funded primarily at the federal or local level); and (e) not serve exclusively children with disability. Seven states (Alabama, Connecticut, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island) were not included in the survey but were included in the Education Week report, Quality Counts 2000, which used a broader definition of state-funded pre-kindergarten and documented 39 states and the District of Columbia as funding state pre-kindergarten.
(19) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Head Start Bureau. Head Start Program Information Report for the 2001-2002 Program Year, National Level Summary Report.
(20) Quality Counts 2002: Education Week, No. 17, January 10, 2002.
(21) American Federation of Teachers, At the Starting Line, 2003.
(22) The Education Commission of the States, State Funded Pre-k Profiles. http://www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/27/24/2724.htm
(23) The Abecedarian Project was a carefully controlled study of an early childhood intervention that began in the 1970s. Fifty-seven infants from low-income families living in a small North Carolina town were randomly assigned to receive an intensive early intervention in a high quality child care setting and 54 were in a non-treated control group. Positive impacts were found on childrens cognitive development, school achievement, and long-term educational attainment. The findings have been published in peer review journals and vetted for technical soundness. The Perry Preschool Study, which began in the 1960s, was one of the first to identify lasting effects of high quality preschool programs on childrens outcomes. One hundred twenty-three poor African American 3- and 4-year-olds were randomly assigned either to attend a high quality preschool program or to no preschool. Both the Abecedarian Project and the Perry Preschool Study focused on specific approaches to offering early childhood education services: neither focused on state-funded pre-kindergarten.
For more information about the Abecedarian Project study methods and results, see:
Campbell, F. A., Ramey, C.T., Pungello, E. P., Sparling, J., & Miller-Johnson, S. (in press). Early childhood education: Young adult outcomes from the Abecedarian Project. Applied Developmental Science.
Campbell, F. A., Punbello, E. P., Miller-Johnson, S., Burchinal, M., & Ramey, C.T. (in press). The development of cognitive and academic abilities: Growth curves from an early childhood educational experiment. Developmental Psychology.
Ramey, C.T., Campbell, F. A., Burchinal, M., Skinner, M. L., Gardner, D.M., & Ramey, S. L. (2002). Persistent effects of early intervention on high-risk children and their mothers. Applied Developmental Science, 4, 2-14.
For more information about the Perry Preschool Study methods and results, see:
Schweinhart, L.J., Barnes, H. V., & Weikart, D. P. (1993). Significant benefits: The High/Scope Perry Preschool study through age 27. Monographs of the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, 10. Ypsilanti, MI: High/Scope Press.
(24) Studies of the Chicago Child-Parent Centers do not include randomized designs.
(25) New Jersey Department of Education, Office of Early Childhood Education. Abbott Preschool Program Implementation Guidelines, February 2003. http://www.state.nj.us/njded/ece/abbott/guidelines/guidelines.htm
(26) New York State Education Department. Universal PreKindergarten Takes Off in New York State, February 2000. http://www.emsc.nysed.gov/universe/prektakesoff/prelimfind.htm
(27) Illinois Office of the Governor. Ready, Set, Grow: A Framework for Universal Access to Quality Preschool in Illinois Created by the Governors Task Force on Universal Access to Preschool http://www100.state.il.us/learning/preschool_access.cfm
(28) Gilliam, W. & Zigler, E. (2001). A critical meta-analysis of all evaluations of state-funded preschool from 1977 to 1998: Implications for policy, service delivery and program evaluation. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 15; Gilliam & Ripple, in press.
(29) Since 1998, state-funded pre-kindergarten programs have evolved and may not reflect the current-day program. For example, the New York program included in the 10-state review, the New York State Experimental Prekindergarten Program (NYSEPP), is an older program implemented in 1966 and not New Yorks current universal pre-kindergarten program which was implemented in 1998 and which has not been formally evaluated.
(30) Gilliam & Zigler, 2001; Gilliam & Ripple, in press.
(31) The term cohort refers to a group of children who entered and exited the program the same year.
(32) Of the 10 studies, Gilliam and Zigler note that only two have been published in professional journals, which require a peer review process to evaluate technical soundness.
(33) Gilliam & Zigler, 2001.
(34) Gilliam & Zigler, 2001.
(35) Gilliam & Zigler, 2001.
(36) Gilliam & Zigler, 2001.
(37) Gilliam & Zigler, 2001.
(38) Gilliam & Zigler, 2001.
(39) Gilliam & Ripple, in press.
(40) Gilliam & Ripple, in press.
(41) Private school is defined as schools or child care centers that offered educational and developmental programs for four-year-olds in exchange for tuition or fees.
(42) Standardized assessments included measures of receptive vocabulary, expressive language skills, cognition and pre-mathematics, and letter and word recognition. Direct assessments used in other large-scale studies measured basic skills including childrens ability to recognize colors, recognize written numerals, and understand story and print concepts. (These tests do not have national norms.) Teachers rated childrens conversation, communication and expressive language skills as well as the appropriateness of childrens classroom behaviors, which were used as the measure of social and emotional development. Childrens health and physical well-being were assessed through teacher and parent surveys. (Teacher ratings and teacher and parent surveys also do not have national norms.)
(43) This method is superior to computing the amount of change in childrens scores between a pre-test prior to intervention and a single post-test following intervention for several technical reasons. For example, the technical requirements for this method of analysis, which includes that childrens abilities be measured at three or more time points, significantly reduce measurement error allowing stronger inferences to be made about the amount and direction of childrens progress. Process quality refers to interactions with teachers and peers, classroom activities, resources and materials, and instructional methods that children experience in the program.
(44) The Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Revised (ECERS-R) was used to measure classroom quality. Areas evaluated include: Space and Furnishings (e.g., room arrangement for play), Personal Care Routines (e.g., health and safety practices), Language-Reasoning (e.g., presence and use of books and pictures, encouraging children to use language), Activities (e.g., art, music, blocks, dramatic play, numbers), Interaction (discipline, peer interactions, sensitivity and responsiveness of staff-child interactions), Program Structure (e.g., free play, group time), and Parents and Staff (e.g., provisions for personal needs of staff, opportunities for professional growth). The measure was not designed to evaluate the range of specific activities and practices that have been shown in research to promote knowledge and skills in the areas of language, early literacy, early mathematics, and social and emotional competency.
(45) The failure to find an association between letter-word recognition and program quality is not surprising because although the program quality measure used in this study is technically sound and widely used, it does not have a focus on letter-word recognition or other pre-reading knowledge and skills. Program quality measures that include observations of teacher-child interactions and activities that promote pre-reading skills have not been sufficiently developed.
(46) Georgias pre-kindergarten program had significantly fewer black children and significantly more white children than Head Start. Compared to Head Start, Georgias pre-kindergarten program had fewer children whose mothers or fathers had less than a high school degree, fewer children receiving Medicaid or SCHIP as their primary insurance, fewer children whose families received welfare during the past five years, fewer children who were born to teenage mothers, fewer children who lived in a household with less than two adults and fewer children who had not lived continuously with both parents from birth, and fewer children whose families had received food stamps during the past five years. Average household income was significantly higher for Georgia pre-kindergarten than for Head Start (40,000-50,000 versus 20,000-30,000). Georgia pre-kindergarten had more children whose mothers had a bachelors degree, more children who were read to every day at home, and more parents participating in their childrens education. In addition, more children in Head Start were referred for language services. Children in Georgias pre-kindergarten program also began the pre-kindergarten program with scores above the national norm for letter-word recognition, whereas Head Start scored below national norms. Though children entering both programs scored below national norms on all vocabulary, expressive language, story comprehension and print familiarity, and problem-solving/pre-mathematics, children in Head Start had entering scores that were substantially lower than children in Georgia pre-kindergarten, as well as lower scores on a non-standardized assessment of basic skills mastery (color recognition, number recognition, and counting).
Though Georgia pre-kindergarten differed from private preschools on some characteristics, they were similar in most areas. Georgias pre-kindergarten program had significantly more black children and significantly fewer white children than private preschools. Compared to private preschools, Georgias pre-kindergarten program had the same percentages of children whose mothers or fathers had less than a high school degree, received Medicaid or SCHIP as their primary insurance, received welfare during the past five years, children born to teenage mothers, children who have lived with both parents continuously since birth, and children whose families had received food stamps during the past five years. Compared to private preschool, Georgia pre-kindergarten had the same percentage of children whose mothers had a bachelors degree, the same percentage of children who were read to every day at home, and the same percentage of children whose parents participated in their childrens education. In addition, the same percentages of children were referred for language services in Georgia pre-kindergarten and private preschool.
Children in Georgias pre-kindergarten program began the pre-kindergarten program with letter-word recognition scores that were lower than those for children in private preschool, though they were above the national norm. Children entering Georgia pre-kindergarten had vocabulary and expressive language scores that were significantly lower than children entering private preschools, though scores for both groups were below national norms. Children entering Georgia pre-kindergarten had problem-solving/pre-mathematics scores that were significantly lower than children entering private preschool, and below national norms. Scores for story comprehension and print familiarity were similar for children entering Georgia pre-kindergarten and public preschools. On non-standardized assessments of basic skills mastery (color recognition, number recognition, and counting) children entering Georgia pre-kindergarten scored significantly lower on number recognition and had similar scores for color recognition and counting, compared to children entering private preschools.
(47) Self-selection bias occurs because study participants with particular characteristics (such as extreme poverty) choose to belong to a specific group (such as Head Start) and those same characteristics also have a known or suspected effect on the outcome of interest (such as the effect of extreme poverty on childrens development and school readiness).
(48) In the sub-study, a portion of the larger sample of children who attended Georgia pre-kindergarten was selected to obtain a group of children with characteristics similar to those who attended Georgia Head Start. The groups were matched to ensure that children in each group were similar on geographical location (rural, urban, other), sex and race. The technique also tries to account for other family risk factors using a propensity score, which represents the probability that all of the children included in the sub-study have characteristics comparable to the children who enrolled in Georgia Head Start. More specifically, the propensity scores estimated the probability that all children in the sub-study belonged to one of four characteristic groups that tended to enroll in Head Start: 1) TANF eligible children whose primary caregiver generally had not completed high school, 2) low-income children eligible for food stamps and Medicaid whose primary caregiver generally had a high school education, 3) lower to middle-income children, and 4) children who had lived with both parents since birth and had parents whom teachers identified as participating in the classroom.
(49) The evaluation includes many comparisons between Georgia pre-kindergarten and Head Start. Most did not control for child and family differences that could account for program group differences. The sub-study used statistical controls for the influence of child and family characteristics on childrens outcomes and focused on disadvantaged groups of children who attended Georgia pre-kindergarten and Head Start. Therefore, when comparing Georgia pre-kindergarten and Head Start, this report summarizes only those analyses that attempted to control for child and family differences between the two groups.
(50) See Gilliam & Zigler for a more detailed discussion of the technical limitations of state-funded pre-kindergarten program evaluations.
(51) Bond, J. T. Interim Report: The Evaluation of Connecticuts School-Readiness Program. Cohorts 1 & 2 through Spring 2002. Prepared for the Connecticut Department of Social Services and Connecticut Department of Education.
(52) The School Readiness Initiative in South Central Connecticut: Classroom Quality, Teacher Training, and Service Provision, FY 2000 Update. Report prepared by W. S. Gilliam, Yale University Child Study Center, January 2001.
(53) Bond, 2002
(54) The amount of change from fall to spring rose slightly, but did not reach the conventional level of statistical significance. This finding indicates that children were close to national norms when they entered pre-kindergarten, and that the pre-kindergarten program did not accelerate childrens advancement beyond the typical rate of development. Effect sizes for the pre-test/post-test difference are not reported and cannot be computed from the data provided.
(55) The report does not show childrens performance at the beginning and end of pre-kindergarten, as was done for school readiness. As a result, it is not known how close children were to national norms before entering the program and the amount of progress children made during the pre-kindergarten year.
(56) Investing in Better Outcomes: The Delaware Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. University of Delaware Center for Disability Studies, April 2002.
Henry, G. T. Gordon, G. S., Mashburn, A., & Ponder, B. D. (2001). Pre-K Longitudinal Study: Findings from the 1999-2000 School Year. Report prepared by the Applied Research Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University for the Georgia Office of School Readiness.
Opfer, V. D., Brackett, M. H. H., & Henry, G. T. (1999). Impact of Georgias Pre-K Program on Kindergarten through Third Grade. Prepared for the Council for School Performance.
Maryland State Department of Education (March 2003). Children Entering School Ready to Learn: School Readiness Information. School Year 2002-2003 by State and County.
Illinois State Board of Education Research Division (June 2001). Illinois Prekindergarten program for children at risk of academic failure. FY 2000 Evaluation Report.
(57) Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). State Initiatives to Promote Early Learning: Next Steps in Coordinating Subsidized Child Care, Head Start, and State Pre-kindergarten. Policy brief, April 2001.
(58) National Association of State Boards of Education, Early Childhood Education Network. Creating a Unified, Comprehensive System of Early Childhood Education, 2003.
(59) IDEA is a federal formula grant program that assists states in providing a free and appropriate public education for children with disabilities in the least restrictive environment possible.
(60) Part B of IDEA assists states in providing a free and appropriate public education for individuals with disabilities from age 3 through 21. Part C supports early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities from birth through age two and their families.
(61) Trust for Early Education website, http://www.trustforearlyed.org/
(62) Pew Charitable Trusts. Starting Early Starting Strong (2001). http://www.pewtrusts.com/ideas/index.cfm?page=20&name=Strategies&issue=26
(63) National Governors Association Website,
National Conference of State Legislatures, http://www.ncsl.org
(64) National Center for Children in Poverty. Map and Track 2000: State Initiatives for Young Children and Families. Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. http://www.nccp.org/pub_mat00.html
(65) California Children & Families Commission. First 5 California. Annual Report, Fiscal Year 2001/02.
(66) Kentucky Governors Office of Early Child Development, KIDS (Kentucky Invests in Developing Success) NOW http://gov.state.ky.us/ecd/index.htm
(67) Smart Start http://www.smartstart-nc.org/overview/main.htm
(68) Smart Start and Preschool Child Care Quality in NC: Change Over Time and Relation to Childrens Readiness, March 2003. A report by the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute Smart Start Evaluation Team: University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
(69) The study design was quasi-experimental and involved pre-post assessments with control groups. Because the studies were not randomized experiments, changes in child outcomes cannot be attributed unequivocally to Smart Start. Researchers have had difficulty conducting randomized trials because a randomized design is viewed as antithetical to the states mission of providing essential services to all children in the state who need them. There is uncertainty about whether or not control group children had attended child care centers that offered some Smart Start services. In addition, length of participation varied greatly in the Smart Start group, ranging from 8 to 60 months, limiting conclusions about how much participation is needed to realize benefits. Data are not available on the duration and intensity of services needed to achieve benefits or which combination of services may contribute to positive effects and for which children.
(70) These findings are sometimes misinterpreted as showing that improvements in child outcomes are the direct result of quality improvement activities. However, the results cannot address this issue because Smart Start programs that focused on quality improvement were not directly compared to those that did not.
(71) North Carolinas Early Care and Education System: Report to the North Carolina General Assembly, January 2003. http://www.governor.state.nc.us/Office/Education/legislativereport-January2003.pdf
(72) South Carolina Office of Early Childhood Education, http://www.sde.state.sc/us.offices/ece/
(73) First Steps and Further Steps: Early Outcomes and Lessons Learned from South Carolinas School Readiness Initiative, 1999-2002 Program Evaluation Report. Prepared by Child Trends, Inc.
(74) National Center for Children in Poverty. Map and Track 2000: State Initiatives for Young Children and Families. Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. http://www.nccp.org/pub_mat00.html
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Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)