Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)
Spring 2018 Conference, Washington, D.C.
February 28-March 3, 2018
Presentation Title: "Early Learning Network Year 1 Results: Preschool Educational Practices and Child Outcomes"
Authors: Robert Pianta, Virginia Vitiello, Jessica Whittaker, Erik Ruzek (2012 PhD Alumnus)
Evidence indicates that high-quality early preschool education can reduce achievement gaps (Yoshikawa et al., 2013) and is positively related to the development of children’s academic and social-emotional skills (Burchinal, Kainz, & Yaping, 2011). The existing literature, however, raises questions about what constitutes high-quality education (Burchinal, in press; Cantrell & Kane, 2013). This study, which was conducted in six rural countries in North Carolina, examined relationships between selected educational practices and children’s gains from fall to spring of pre-kindergarten year in basic literacy skills (decoding, sound fluency) and basic numeracy skills and in selected higher-order skills: vocabulary, learning behavior skills, and executive function (inhibitory control and flexibility). We aimed to identify the educational practices that appear to promote both basic and higher order skills among preschool children. Findings indicate that different educational practices appear to promote different school readiness skills. Gains in basic decoding and math skills were related to the amount of instruction in that content area. Acquisition of vocabulary was related to more frequent complex verbal interactions with the teachers. In contrast, gains in other areas were not as closely aligned with instructional contents. Use of the global curricula was related to smaller gains in early literacy and inhibitory control skills, but larger gains in teacher reported approaches to learning. More time in small group was related to cognitive flexibility skills. As such, these findings suggest that we need to broaden our conceptualization of high-quality early childhood education beyond process quality, and attend more closely to educational practices such as time and quality of instruction within content areas and of verbal interactions between teachers and children.
Discussant: Chancellor's Professor Carol Connor