Pre-Kindergarten

Cluster Randomized Trial of the Efficacy of Early Childhood Science Education for Low-Income Children

The research goal of this project is to evaluate whether an early childhood science education program, implemented in low-income preschool settings produces measurable impacts for children, teachers, and parents. The study is determining the efficacy of the program on Science curriculum in two models, one in which teachers participate in professional development activities (the intervention), and another in which teachers receive the curriculum and teachers' guide but no professional development (the control).

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
1119327
Funding Period: 
Mon, 08/15/2011 to Mon, 07/31/2017
Project Evaluator: 
Brian Dates, Southwest Counseling Services
Full Description: 

The research goal of this project is to evaluate whether an early childhood science education program, Head Start on Science, implemented in low-income preschool settings (Head Start) produces measurable impacts for children, teachers, and parents. The study is being conducted in eight Head Start programs in Michigan, involving 72 classrooms, 144 teachers, and 576 students and their parents. Partners include Michigan State University, Grand Valley State University, and the 8 Head Start programs. Southwest Counseling Solutions is the external evaluator.

The study is determining the efficacy of the Head Start on Science curriculum in two models, one in which 72 teachers participate in professional development activities (the intervention), and another in which 72 teachers receive the curriculum and teachers' guide but no professional development (the control). The teacher study is a multi-site cluster randomized trial (MSCRT) with the classroom being the unit of randomization. Four time points over two years permit analysis through multilevel latent growth curve models. For teachers, measurement instruments include Attitudes Toward Science (ATS survey), the Head Start on Science Observation Protocol, the Preschool Classroom Science Materials/Equipment Checklist, the Preschool Science Classroom Activities Checklist, and the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS). For students, measures include the "mouse house problem," Knowledge of Biological Properties, the physics of falling objects, the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Fourth Edition, the Expressive Vocabulary Test-2, the Test of Early Mathematics Ability-3, Social Skills Improvement System-Rating Scales, and the Emotion Regulation Checklist. Measures for parents include the Attitudes Toward Science survey, and the Community and Home Activities Related to Science and Technology for Preschool Children (CHARTS/PS). There are Spanish versions of many of these instruments which can be used as needed. The external evaluation is monitoring the project progress toward its objectives and the processes of the research study.

This project meets a critical need for early childhood science education. Research has shown that very young children can achieve significant learning in science. The curriculum Head Start on Science has been carefully designed for 3-5 year old children and is one of only a few science programs for this audience with a national reach. This study intends to provide a sound basis for early childhood science education by demonstrating the efficacy of this important curriculum in the context of a professional development model for teachers.

Next Generation Preschool Math

This project will develop, test, and refine a curriculum supplement (a hands-on technology) that (1) promotes childrens' understanding of number (counting, comparing, and ordering) and fair sharing (equipartitioning); (2) uses interactive media on an emerging handheld platform (touch screen tablets), integrating new multi-touch activities with existing hands-on activities; (3) enhances opportunities for learning with interactive media through shared use with adult guides and peers; and (4) provides professional and technical support materials for preschool educators.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1119118
Funding Period: 
Mon, 08/01/2011 to Fri, 07/31/2015
Project Evaluator: 
Education Design, Inc.
Full Description: 

In this full research and development project, a team of learning scientists and media researchers at Education Development Center and SRI International will collaborate with educational media producers at WGBH to develop, test, and refine a curriculum supplement (a hands-on technology) that (1) promotes childrens' understanding of number (counting, comparing, and ordering) and fair sharing (equipartitioning); (2) uses interactive media on an emerging handheld platform (touch screen tablets), integrating new multi-touch activities with existing hands-on activities; (3) enhances opportunities for learning with interactive media through shared use with adult guides and peers; and (4) provides professional and technical support materials for preschool educators. The project investigates if and how engagement with activities in a media-rich curriculum supplement improves low-income young childrens' early learning of number and equipartitioning.

The project builds on sound research about learning trajectories to develop materials for fostering young childrens' learning. In addition, this project will generate new research findings about how engagement with activities in a media-rich curriculum supplement can improve low-income childrens' learning. The project uses use mixed methods (ethnographic observations and interviews and HLM analyses) to answer the research questions.

This project addresses a critical need to develop quality early childhood mathematics curriculum, particularly that aimed at low-income students. This project involves two important content areas. Both the content and the mode of delivery make major contributions to curriculum development and research. This project can provide much needed insights about how to effectively use technology for improving student learning.

Early Childhood Education in the Context of Mathematics, Science, and Literacy

This curriculum project is using empirically-tested mathematics and science programs and research-based approaches to develop a six module interdisciplinary curriculum for pre-K students. Mathematics and science content is included with literacy/language and social-emotional development. The curriculum is being designed to counter the frequent situation of devoting most pre-school instructional time to literacy by having activities that join literacy with mathematics and science.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1313718
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2012 to Mon, 08/31/2015
Full Description: 

The Mathematics, Science, and Literacy (MSL) curriculum project is using empirically-tested mathematics and science programs and research-based approaches to develop a six module interdisciplinary curriculum for pre-K students. Mathematics and science content is included with literacy/language and social-emotional development. The curriculum is being designed to counter the frequent situation of devoting most pre-school instructional time to literacy by having activities that join literacy with mathematics and science. The project is housed at the University of Buffalo, but also has sites at Rutgers University New Brunswick and Michigan State University. A detailed process, a curriculum development framework that has been used to develop prior curriculum materials is being used for developing the MSL curriculum. The design of the materials is giving strong attention to being viable for at-risk students.

The MSL materials are research-based and incorporate learning trajectories developed from prior work. The materials are being developed in the first two years of the project and piloted by a four teachers at each of the three sites. In the third year of the four year project, the materials will be piloted by four different teachers at each of the three sites. Formative evaluation data are being used to revise the materials. Pretests and posttests in each of the three content areas are being used to measure improved learning. An external evaluator is verifying the analyses of data and that valid conclusions are being made. The development effort includes attending to the professional development needs of teachers who will be using the six module pre-K curriculum and teachers who will have students who have completed the curriculum.

The main deliverable will be the research-based six module curriculum for pre-K mathematics, science, and literacy. In addition, a detailed formative evaluation of the curriculum's creation and implementation is being produced along with a detailed description and evaluation of the curriculum model used. A publisher has indicated interest in publishing the materials and is interacting with the developers throughout the process. There is a potential that the interdisciplinary curriculum will be widely used. The curriculum is being designed using the most current learning trajectories with the expectations that these will particularly helpful for at risk students.

This project was previously funded under award # 1020118.

Using Rule Space and Poset-Based Adaptive Testing Methodologies to Identify Ability Patterns in Early Mathematics and Create a Comprehensive Mathematics Ability Test

This project will develop a new assessment for children ages 3-7 to provide teachers with diagnostic information on a child's development of mathematics facility on ten domains such as counting, sequencing, adding/subtracting, and measurement. The Comprehensive Research-based Mathematics Ability (CREMAT) is being developed using innovative psychometric models to reveal information about children on specific attributes for each of the 10 domains.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1313695
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2012 to Wed, 02/28/2018
Full Description: 

A new assessment for children ages 3-7 is being developed to provide teachers with diagnostic information on a child's development of mathematics facility on ten domains such as counting, sequencing, adding/subtracting, and measurement. The Comprehensive Research-based Mathematics Assessment (CREMA) is being developed using innovative psychometric models to reveal information about children on specific attributes for each of the 10 domains. The CREMA will produce information based on carefully developed learning trajectories in a relative short period of time by using computer adaptive testing. The project is guided by two goals: 1) to produce a cognitively diagnostic adaptive assessment that will yield more useful and detailed information about students' knowledge of mathematics than previously possible, and 2) subject the developmental progressions to close cognitive diagnosis using cutting-edge psychometric approaches. An item pool of about 350 items is being developed that can be used to identify the level of understanding children ages 3-7 have on the 10 domains that have been identified as foundational to further learning in mathematics. A research team headed by Dr. Douglas Clements at the University of Buffalo is conducting the development work while being assisted by Dr. Curtis Tatsuoka, a statistician at Case Western Reserve University.

The CREMA is being developed using leading-edge psychometric models based on Q-Matrix theory, rule-state models, and posets. The initial item pool includes items from the REMA, a previously developed instrument based on unidemensional IRT models. New items are being piloted with at least 200 students from a group of a total of 800 students evenly distributed among pre-K to grade 2. The successful items then are used to create the new CREMA. The new assessment is being field tested with 300 children, pre-K to grade 2. A random sample of 50 students (at least 10 from each grade) is being video taped as they work the items. Specific criteria of convergence are being used for feedback on how specific items are performing to meet the required specifications. An external evaluator is auditing the process and is doing spot checks of item codings and other analyses performed.

The main product will be the CREMA that will be made widely available. This instrument using computer adaptive testing will provide teachers with ready information on young children's understanding of critical mathematical ideas. The new psychometric models that will be used and developed to process multiple attributes from individual items will make large strives to move forward the field of mathematics assessment of young children. A publisher has expressed interest to make the assessment widely available that increases the likelihood the assessment will have large impact on early childhood mathematics learning.

This project was previously funded under award # 1019925.

Supports for Science and Mathematics Learning in Pre-Kindergarten Dual Language Learners: Designing a Professional Development System

SciMath-DLL is an innovative preschool professional development (PD) model that integrates supports for DLLs with high quality science and mathematics instructional offerings. It engages teachers with workshops, classroom-based coaching, and professional learning communities.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1726082
Funding Period: 
Sun, 08/15/2010 to Sat, 06/30/2018
Project Evaluator: 
Open Minds LLC
Full Description: 

The 4-year project, Supports for Science and Mathematics Learning in Pre-Kindergarten Dual Language Learners: Designing and Expanding a Professional Development System (SciMath-DLL), will address a number of educational challenges. Global society requires citizens and a workforce that are literate in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), but many U.S. students remain ill prepared in these areas. At the same time, the children who fill U.S. classrooms increasingly speak a non-English home language, with the highest concentration in the early grades. Many young children are also at risk for lack of school readiness in language, literacy, mathematics, and science due to family background factors. Educational efforts to offset early risk factors can be successful, with clear links between high quality early learning experiences and later academic outcomes. SciMath-DLL will help teachers provide effective mathematics and science learning experiences for their students. Early educational support is critical to assure that all students, regardless of socioeconomic or linguistic background, learn the STEM content required to become science and mathematics literate. Converging lines of research suggest that participation in sustained mathematics and science learning activities could enhance the school readiness of preschool dual language learners. Positive effects of combining science inquiry with supports for English-language learning have been identified for older students. For preschoolers, sustained science and math learning opportunities enhance language and pre-literacy skills for children learning one language. Mathematics skills and science knowledge also predict later mathematics, science, and reading achievement. What has not been studied is the extent to which rich science and mathematics experiences in preschool lead to better mathematics and science readiness and improved language skills for preschool DLLs. Because the preschool teaching force is not prepared to support STEM learning or to provide effective supports for DLLs, professional development to improve knowledge and practice in these areas is required before children's learning outcomes can be improved.

SciMath-DLL is an innovative preschool professional development (PD) model that integrates supports for DLLs with high quality science and mathematics instructional offerings. It engages teachers with workshops, classroom-based coaching, and professional learning communities. Development and research activities incorporate cycles of design-expert review-enactment- analysis-redesign; collaboration between researcher-educator teams at all project stages; use of multiple kinds of data and data sources to establish claims; and more traditional, experimental methodologies. Based on initial evidence of promise, the SciMath-DLL project will expand PD offerings to include web-based materials, making the PD more flexible for use in a range of educational settings and training circumstances. An efficacy study will be completed to examine the potential of the SciMath-DLL resources, model, and tools to generate positive effects on teacher attitudes, knowledge, and practice for early mathematics and science and on children's readiness in these domains in settings that serve children learning two languages. By creating a suite of tools that can be used under differing educational circumstances to improve professional knowledge, skill, and practice around STEM, the project increases the number of teachers who are prepared to support children as STEM learners and, thus, the number of children who can be supported as STEM learners.

Products:

Journal Articles:

Brenneman, K., Lange, A., & Nayfeld, I. (2018). Integrating STEM into Preschool Education: Designing a Professional Development Model in Diverse Settings. Early Childhood Education Journal, 47(1), 15-28. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-018-0912-z

Lange, A. A., Nayfeld, I., Mano, H., & Jung, K. (revise and resubmit). Effects of a professional development model on preschool teachers’ attitudes, beliefs, and knowledge around STEM and teaching DLLs. 

Lange, A. A., Trivette, C., Nayfeld, I., & Mano, H. (in preparation). Impacts of a preschool professional development approach on teaching and coaching practice: A mixed-methods analysis.

Books:

Lange, A. A., Brenneman, K., & Mano, H. (2019). Teaching STEM in the Preschool Classroom: Exploring Big Ideas with 3-5 Year Olds. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Practitioner Publications:

Mano, H., Molina, K., Nayfeld, I., & Lange, A. A. (2019). Planting the Seeds of Engineering: Preschoolers Think about, Talk about, and Solve a Real Problem in the Garden. Science and Children, 57 (2), 80–84.

Lange, A. A., Dias, A., & Brenneman, K. (2016). Reflecting on Teaching Length Measurement to Young Children. Teaching Young Children, 9(5), 24-27. (product from SciMath DRK-12 predecessor project)

Blogs: 

Lange, A.A. (2019). Engaging Preschoolers in STEM: It’s Easier Than You Think! Invited guest blog for the DREME Network. https://dreme.stanford.edu/news/engaging-preschoolers-stem-it-s-easier-you-think 

Lange, A. A. (2015). Early STEM: Fuel for Learning. https://nieer.wordpress.com/2015/10/06/early-stem-fuel-for-learning/ 

Newsletter: www.ecstemlab.com/newsletter

Preschool STEM Institute: www.ecstemlab.com/preschool-stem-institute

This project was previously funded under award #1019576.

Professional Development for Culturally Relevant Teaching and Learning in Pre-K Mathematics

This project is creating and studying a professional development model to support preK teachers in developing culturally and developmentally appropriate practices in counting and early number. The proposed model is targeted at teachers of children in four-year-old kindergarten, and focuses on culturally relevant teaching and learning. The model stresses counting and basic number operations with the intention of exploring the domain as it connects to children's experiences in their homes and communities.

Award Number: 
1019431
Funding Period: 
Wed, 09/01/2010 to Fri, 08/31/2018
Project Evaluator: 
Victoria Jacobs
Full Description: 

Developers and researchers at the University of Wisconsin are creating and studying a professional development model that connects research in counting and early number (CGI), early childhood, and funds of knowledge. The proposed model is targeted at teachers of children in four-year-old kindergarten, and focuses on culturally relevant teaching and learning. The model stresses a specific, circumscribed content domain - counting and basic number operations - with the intention of exploring the domain in depth particularly as it connects to children's experiences in their homes and communities and how it is learned and taught through play.

The project designs, develops, and tests innovative resources and models for teachers to support ongoing professional learning communities. These learning communities are designed to identify and build on the rich mathematical understandings of all pre-K children. The project's specific goals are to instantiate a reciprocal "funds of knowledge" framework for (a) accessing children's out-of-school experiences in order to provide instruction that is equitable and culturally relevant and (b) developing culturally effective ways to support families in understanding how to mathematize their children's out-of-school activities. Teachers are observed weekly during the development and evaluation process and student assessments are used to measure students' progress toward meeting project benchmarks and the program's effectiveness in reducing or eliminating the achievement gap.

The outcome is a complete professional development model that includes written and digital materials. The product includes case studies, classroom video, examples of student work, and strategies for responding to students' understandings.

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