EEMG Year 2 Results
The Indiana Family Social Services Administration (FSSA) contracted with The Early Childhood Center at the Indiana Institute (ECC) to administer the evaluation of the prekindergarten Early Education Matching Grant (EEMG) program during the 2014-2017 school years. The evaluation’s focus encompasses: children’s gains in learning (early academic and school readiness skills), the quality of families’ engagement in their children’s learning and development, and classroom quality. The 2nd EEMG program year (2015-16) research sample included 242 randomly selected children throughout 46 classrooms across the state.
The EEMG year 2 evaluation results found that children made marked gains in nearly all measures. Significant improvements in receptive language, concept development, and key school readiness skills were demonstrated. The percentage of children showing developmental delays also decreased, sometimes dramatically. At the start of the EEMG 2015-16 year, 22% to 49% of the children showed delays in their receptive language on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT-4) and concept development on the Bracken School Readiness Assessment (BSRA-3), respectively. These numbers had reduced by more than half by the end of the year. Figure 1 illustrates that progress. By the end of the program year, 88.8% of children exited at age level in receptive language and 79.8% exited at age level in concept learning. Furthermore, of the children that were delayed in skills at the start of the program year, 8% in concept development and 26% in receptive language, caught up to their same-age peers by the end of the program year.
The Indiana Standards Tool for Alternate Reporting of Kindergarten Readiness (ISTAR-KR) measures also captured similar changes in children’s developmental status. At the beginning of the 2015-16 year, 46.3% of children were delayed in two or more English/Language Arts skill areas, 67.7% were delayed in two or more Mathematics skills areas, and 61.4% were delayed in two or more Social-Emotional skill areas. By the end of the program year, those numbers had reduced to 17.5%, 28%, and 42%, respectively.
Families and teachers reported significant gains in social skills throughout Year 2 of the EEMG on the Preschool Kindergarten Behavior Skills (PKBS-2) assessment. Additionally, children who were at-risk socially and behaviorally at the beginning of the school year showed significant improvement in their social emotional skills by the end of the program year.
Classroom observations of teacher/child interactions using The Classroom Assessment and Scoring System (CLASS) measure indicated that Indiana’s EEMG teachers scored above average in the areas of Emotional Support and Classroom Organization, but below average in Instructional Support, when compared with national samples and other studies. Statistical analyses showed that Classroom Organization was a significant predictor of decreased problem behaviors, as reported by parents. Likewise, when Instructional Support scores increased, EEMG parents and teachers reported fewer behavior problems. Examining classroom schedules found that children were exposed to a wide range of activities, however, they spent the majority of their time in free choice, basics, and group learning environments. As expected, children attending full-day programs spent a great deal more time in activities coded as “basics,” such as: nap time, waiting in line, restroom breaks. Notably, teachers in classrooms where children spent more time in group instruction reported significant decreases in problem behavior.
Lastly, regarding family engagement, teachers in EEMG programs that reported a higher level of Assisting Families as Connected, Supported Members of the Community (one of the four components of the ELAC family engagement framework) also reported increased social skills.