Effects of an Urban Public Preschool Program on Early Language Development By Race, Ethnicity, and Home Language
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
The proposed study examines the role of a high-quality preschool program in early language and literacy development by three different subgroups: African American (35.6%), Asian/Pacific Islander (41.1%), and ELL (52.5%) students among a diverse urban cohort in a large Midwestern city. Our research question is: Which subgroup benefits more from a high-quality early childhood education program. The sample consists of over 200 children enrolled in the Midwest Child Parent Center (MCPC) preschool classrooms located in high-poverty neighborhoods in St. Paul, MN for the 2012-2013 school year. These children and their parents were participants in a cohort of a federally-funded Midwest Expansion of the Child-Parent Center (CPC) program implemented in economically-disadvantaged neighborhoods in 5 school districts in Minnesota and Illinois. The CPC intervention provides early education and comprehensive parent support services followed by small class sizes and an aligned curriculum from preschool through third grade. The current study focuses on the first year of the implementation of the program.
Two outcomes representing early language and literacy development were obtained at three time periods during the preschool year from fall to spring. These were measured by subscales of the Individual Growth and Development Indicators (IGDIs) and Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS). These are commonly used assessments.
Preliminary findings show that there are significant differences in literacy development among race/ethnicity and ELL status. For example, the mean growth score from fall to spring on the PALs measure of “concepts about print” was significantly higher for Asian/Pacific Islander (n=80, p < .001; d=0.56) and lower for African Americans (n=70, p < .001; d=-0.55) students compared to their peers. For ELL students, mean growth scores were significantly greater for ELL (n=99) compared to non-ELL (n=90; p < .001; d=0.56) students. In further analysis, children of immigrants will be examined.
Evidence of differences in growth in early literacy scores among different sub groups has important policy implications. Based on preliminary findings, our findings suggests that a high-quality preschool program not only enhances early literacy skills, but also may reduce the school readiness gaps among race/ethnic and ELL groups. Further analyses will examine the role of the parenting component of the CPC program, to understand the mechanisms underlying the growth differences in early literacy by race/ethnicity and ELL status.