High scope research papers
Children are provided breakfast, lunch, and a snack daily. The TOP Longitudinal Study began in the fall of ; the first TOP graduates were already in kindergarten when the researchers began to develop the strategies for the program of study. Thus, beginning in , parents were told about the longitudinal study when their child enrolled for the year at a TOP Center. At that time, they were asked if they would be willing to have their child participate in the study.
Each year, a new kindergarten class is added to the longitudinal study to have a sequential design. This adds to the rigor of the study, in that the research continues to address vagaries as events and cultural changes occur over periods of time. For the purposes of this article, the group of students who entered kindergarten in was selected as the sample for this study. Thus, this is but a part of a large longitudinal, sequential study.
To be eligible study participants, the children must have attended TOP for at least eight continuous months the year prior to entering kindergarten. Thus, our first study group was termed Cohort 1. As is the case with most longitudinal studies, some students move away or relocate. Thus, attrition occurs, resulting in a decrease in the number of participants as the years pass. Table 1 indicates the numbers of children spanning the years of the study, the demographics of the participants, and that minimum attrition occurred in the cohort.
Number of participants and demographic information for each year of data collection for cohort 1, from kindergarten through 4th grade. Data gathering was conducted in two school districts within the local area. Both districts use the Kansas State standards and Common Core as their basis of teaching.
Thus, though there may be teaching differences among individual teachers, the curriculum is similar across classrooms, schools, and districts. One of the school districts also provided the study with a matched control sample of students with which to compare the TOP students.
The control sample was matched on four variables: gender, age, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.co.organiccrap.com/10505.php
Use of early childhood longitudinal studies by policy makers
Although we did not have information about whether children in the control sample had attended some other preschool program, we were aware that both school systems offered a limited preschool program for students who met several criteria. There may have been others who attended another preschool program as well.
However, we thought that any differences between the groups would be more difficult to attain if a number of the control sample had indeed participated in a preschool program. The control sample was large at first because students would likely drop out as they moved from the district and the sample would become more similar in size to the TOP sample as the years pass. Chi-squared tests were performed on the demographics of the TOP and control groups to determine if there was a goodness of fit between the groups on the demographic variables. For gender, age, and socioeconomic status, the two groups for all grades were equally distributed.
For ethnicity, however, the two groups were not equally distributed for any of the grades. Based on past research that indicates a major long-term impact from early education on the social skills of children, the researchers developed a social questionnaire that was administered to the teachers of former TOP students identified for the study.
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The social questionnaire contained questions that evaluated each student in three areas of social skills: appropriate behaviors, competent social interactions, and emotional maturity. At the end of the social questionnaire, five questions were framed that asked teachers to compare the TOP student with the remainder of the children in the classroom on the three domains of social skills. It is with these five comparative questions that this study is concerned.
Content validity was established by four experts in the field of school counseling who judged the items appropriate for the elementary grades. The school counselors then administered the social questionnaires to a sample of schoolchildren; the items were revised as necessary to ensure that each item asked for only one factor. Two questions addressed appropriate behaviors, two questions addressed competent social interactions, and one question addressed emotional maturity.
For reliability ratings, 20 undergraduate teacher education students in their methods class participated in an inter-rater reliability assessment. The students were asked to rate four different fictitious students on the social questionnaire.
This is a reasonable interrater reliability rating, as there were 20 different raters doing the evaluations. Beginning in the 3rd grade, the school systems assess each student on state normed reading and mathematics tests. Thus, we asked the two school districts to provide us with the performance indicators for reading and math for the TOP and control groups for the 3rd and 4th grades.
Additionally, we collected special education placements as a subset of academics. Although no academic performance data were available before 3rd grade, we included this as an outcome of the TOP Early Learning experience because much of past research e. Impacts of early childhood programs.
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Washington, DC: Brookings Institute. This study sought to determine if the same were true of the TOP program. Earlier longitudinal studies e.
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We operationally defined attendance at school as an attitudinal variable. Schweinhart et al. At earlier school grades e. This indicates that, at least by 3rd grade, students show a positive attitude toward school.
We also operationally defined discipline referrals as an attitude variable because the ability to follow guidelines and exhibit appropriate behavior is indicative of attitude. The study was discussed with parents when a child enrolled at a TOP center, and parents were asked to sign a consent form requesting their child be tracked in a longitudinal study.
If the parent consented and the child attended a TOP school for eight consecutive months prior to kindergarten, the child was eligible for the study. When children entered the public schools, a researcher tried to locate them as students in the school system and worked with the schools to collect data on them throughout their school years. Each year, in the spring semester, the two school systems worked with the researcher to locate as many children as possible in the schools. The researcher then contacted the individual teacher of each TOP child and asked the teacher to complete the social questionnaire designed for the study for each TOP child he or she had in their class.
Teachers were provided with gift cards of modest value for the use of their time. At the end of the school year, the researcher submitted the list of TOP students and the control group to the schools, and requested the additional information for all the TOP students and control group plus the standardized math and reading test data for the 3rd-, 4th-, and 5th-grade students in both groups. The results section is divided into three areas for analyses: 1 academics, 2 social skills, and 3 attitudes toward school. All three areas are deemed important because past research has indicated that the long-term benefits from a quality preschool program are academic, social, and attitudinal.
Academics are presented as reading and math performance indicators from state assessments beginning at the 3rd grade.
Special education is discussed as a subset of academics because it is generally considered part of the academic curriculum. One of the districts provided a control group with which we could compare the TOP students in both academic subjects and for special education placement. Because reading and mathematics are the basic tools that children need in school from an early time and use throughout their lives, these were the two academic tests researchers chose to measure. Two figures follow in which the two groups the TOP and control students are shown in terms of their comparisons in Approaching, Meeting, or Exceeding Standards for reading and math.
Figure 1 provides the information for reading performance for the TOP and control groups for 3rd and 4th grades. Figure 2 provides information on math performance levels for the TOP and control groups for 3rd and 4th grades. Percentages of The Opportunity Project TOP and control group students who approach Performance 1 or 2 , meet Performance 3 , or exceed Performance 4 or 5 standards for reading in 3rd and 4th grades. Figure 1. For reading performance in the 3rd grade, a considerably greater percentage of the control group students were in the Academic Warning and Approach Standards area of performance standards than the TOP students.
For the 4th grade, similar patterns emerged. A lower percentage of TOP students were in the lower performance standards, a lower percentage of TOP students than control group students Met Standards, but a considerably higher percentage of TOP students again Exceeded Standards than the control group students. The reading performance indicators showed significantly that the TOP students were Exceeding Standards by the 4th grade at a greater rate than their non-TOP peers.
The information for math performance is similar to that for reading. Because the two sample sizes are so different, the best means of demonstrating the data may be by illustrating a figure of the placement in special education by percentages of the TOP students and the control groups for each year from kindergarten through the 4th grade. As part of its program, TOP identifies learning issues as early as possible so children can be helped as soon as they start elementary school.
This stress on early identification is intended to help children early, thus allowing them to get help from special education and then move back into regular education classes. Figure 3 provides the summary for these placements. Percentages of The Opportunity Project TOP and control group students who approach Performance 1 or 2 , meet Performance 3 , or exceed Performance 4 or 5 standards for math in 3rd and 4th grades. Figure 2. From the figure, it can be seen that in kindergarten, TOP children have a higher special education placement than their non-TOP peers; by 1st grade, placement in special education is similar for the TOP and control students.
By 2nd grade, placement in special education for the control group became noticeably higher than that for TOP students.