The Early Education Matching Grant (EEMG) program began in 2014 and provided publicly funded preschool services to four-year-old children from eligible low-income families. The Indiana Social Services Administration (FSSA) contracted with The Early Childhood Center (ECC) to administer the evaluation of the EEMG for the four 2014-2017 program years. The statewide expansion of Indiana’s On My Way Pre-K program absorbed the EEMG programs in 2017, thus dissolving the EEMG at the end of the 2016 program year. During its third and final year, the EEMG evaluative focus has continued to include children’s gains in learning and development, the level of families’ engagement in their children’s learning and development, and classroom quality. The last EEMG research sample consisted of 217 randomly selected children within 16 programs, throughout 34 classrooms.
As in the first two years, the third year EEMG evaluation results found that children made marked gains in nearly all assessment measures. Once again, significant improvements were seen in areas of receptive language, concept development, and key school readiness skills. Additionally, the percentage of children showing developmental delays decreased substantially. At the beginning of the EEMG 2016-17 year, 17.8% of the children in the sample showed delays in their receptive language as measured on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT-4) while 39.7% showed delays in concept development on the Bracken School Readiness Assessment (BSRA-3). These numbers had reduced by more than half by the end of the year, to 3.7% and 17.1% respectively. Likewise, the Indiana Standards Tool for Alternate Reporting of Kindergarten Readiness (ISTAR-KR) captured similar changes in children’s developmental status. At the beginning of the 2016-17 year, 58% of children were delayed in two or more English/Language Arts skill areas, 75% were delayed in two or more Mathematics skills areas, and 63% were delayed in two or more Social-Emotional skill areas. By the end of the program year, those respective numbers had reduced to 11%, 16%, and 34%. Consistent with previous EEMG results, EEMG Y3 families and teachers reported significant gains in social skills on the Preschool Kindergarten Behavior Skills (PKBS-2) assessment.
Classrooms were observed using the Classroom Assessment and Scoring System (CLASS), which evaluates observable indicators of adult-child interactions along a 1- 7 rating scale. Findings revealed that Indiana’s EEMG Y3 teachers scored well in the areas of emotional support and classroom organization, but in the low-mid range for instructional support. Examining classroom schedules found that children continue to be exposed to a wide range of activities, and yet similar to previous results, they spent about half their time in non-instructional activities like free choice, basics, and recess. Not surprisingly, children attending full-day programs continue to spend more time in activities coded as “basics”, such as: nap time, waiting in line, and restroom breaks than those in half-day programs. Interestingly, teachers in classrooms where children spent more time in group instruction, consistently reported significant decreases in problem behavior.
Indiana’s Early Education Matching Grant program was in effect during the 2014-2016 prekindergarten program years. The cumulative results of the three EEMG evaluations have yielded the following consistent findings: programs rated 3 or 4 on Indiana’s voluntary rating system, Paths to Quality (PTQ), had similar child outcomes; chronically absent children had teachers that reported more problematic behavior in the spring; and classrooms where children spent more time in group instruction had teachers that reported less problem behaviors over the course of the year. Please keep an eye out on our website for the full Year 3 EEMG report.