The Early Childhood Center assessed 213 EEMG children (randomly selected from all EEMG programs across the state) using the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT), Bracken School Readiness Assessment-3 (BSRA-3), the Indiana Standards Tool for Alternate Reporting of Kindergarten Readiness (ISTAR-KR), and the Social Competence and Behavior Evaluation (SCBE). The purpose of administering these assessments was to determine the change in children’s learning and school readiness skills from the beginning to the end of their EEMG enrollment. The Indiana University assessment team administered the PPVT and Bracken to measure academic skills and classroom teachers used the SCBE to report social and behavioral skills. Classroom teachers also completed the ISTAR-KR to rate children’s performance in several academic and functional areas.
At the start of the EEMG program year, 20% to 39% of the children showed delays in their receptive language (PPVT) and concept development (BSRA-3). These numbers were nearly halved by the end of the program (11% and 18%), respectively. Changes in children’s developmental status were also captured in the ISTAR-KR measures. At the beginning of the program year, 46% of children were delayed in two or more English/Language Arts skill areas, 65% were delayed in two or more Mathematics skills areas, and 64% were delayed in two or more Social-Emotional skill areas. By the end of the program year, these numbers were reduced to 20%, 28%, and 42%, respectively.
According to ISTAR-KR, while children made significant gains in their social-emotional skills areas, a large percentage of children (42%) were missing skills that should have been acquired by all five year-olds. These skills typically involve important social-cognitive skills like problem solving and self-regulation. Self-regulation encompasses abilities such as finds alternate strategies/solutions, applies creativity to activities, applies rules to situations, uses strategies to manage emotions, and applies strategies to regulate input. It may be important to determine how well teachers are able to assess these skills, as well as, how well their current curricula emphasize children learning these skills.
While there was significant variation among programs and classrooms; no significant differences were found in children’s learning and school readiness between facilities that offered full versus half-day programs. Additionally, there no were significant differences observed between Paths to Quality Level 3 and Level 4 programs.
The lack of significant differences could have important policy implications going forward. It is important to note that the sample of Level 3 and half-day programs was small for Year 1 of EEMG. Year 2 programs will include greater numbers of children served in Level 3 and half-day programs. This will provide another opportunity to determine if the lack of differences continues.
There were few significant relationships between our child learning and school readiness measures and our measures of classroom instruction and quality. Classrooms that scored higher in the Emotional Support domain of the CLASS yielded higher scores on the English/Language Arts domain of the ISTAR-KR. We also found that classrooms that spent proportionally more time in teacher-structured activities showed higher gains in this same measure. In addition, classrooms that scored higher in the CLASS Classroom Organization domain were significantly associated with decreases in children’s anger/behavior as measured by the Anger subscale of the SCBE-30; however, classrooms that scored higher on the CLASS Emotional Support domain were associated with increases in children’s anger as measured by the same tool. While it is clear why increased instruction and classroom organization can have positive influences on children’s learning and behavior management, it is less clear why strong Emotional Support would be associated with teacher’s observations of increased anger-related behavior.