Curriculum

Evidence from research demonstrates that the curriculum has been associated with children's positive learning outcomes. The curriculum has been implemented and directly studied in early childhood programs, and the research showed significant, positive effects on children's developmental outcomes. Evidence of effectiveness has been obtained in rigorous research studies, such as randomized controlled trials or regression discontinuity designs. Research studies on the curriculum have optimally included multiple, diverse groups of children and teachers.

What do the ratings mean?

  • Four star rating graphic Full Evidence
  • Three star rating graphic Moderate Evidence
  • Two star rating graphic Minimal Evidence
  • One star rating graphic No Evidence

Curriculum

Rating

Review

Big Day for PreK™

Full Review & Ratings
One star rating graphicNo Evidence

At the time of this review, there are no available published research studies on Big Day for PreK. The publisher, Scholastic, has conducted two studies without comparison groups. In these studies, results on the Scholastic assessment indicated significant growth in children's oral language, phonological awareness, alphabet knowledge, and mathematics after children attended Big Day for PreK classrooms. More rigorous research published in peer-reviewed journals is needed in order to establish evidence for the effect of Big Day for PreKon children's positive learning outcomes.

Core Knowledge® Preschool Sequence

Full Review & Ratings
One star rating graphicNo Evidence

At the time of this review, there are no research studies on the Core Knowledge® Preschool Sequence (Core Knowledge®) available in peer-reviewed journals. The publisher presents two studies with Core Knowledge® on their website. In these studies, children made gains in language, literacy, and mathematics outcomes. However, both studies used a pre-/post-test design with no comparison group. More rigorous research is needed in order to establish evidence for the effect of Core Knowledge® on children's positive learning outcomes.

Curiosity Corner, 2nd Edition

Full Review & Ratings
Two star rating graphicMinimal Evidence

At the time of this review, Curiosity Corner, 2nd Edition (Curiosity Corner) has been evaluated in one published research study, the report of the Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research (PCER) Consortium (PCER Consortium, 2008).

Rigorous Design: Curiosity Corner was evaluated using a randomized controlled trial.

Sample and Generalizability: The sample was racially and ethnically diverse. Children in the sample attended public preschools, Head Start, and child care programs in three different states. Information on socio-economic status was not provided.

Fidelity of Implementation: The teachers received an initial training as well as ongoing feedback and support during the program year. Trainers conducted three implementation visits, during which they observed and provided feedback on teachers' instructional practices and classroom environments. A publisher-developed curriculum fidelity instrument was used by trainers during implementation visits. The researchers used data from this instrument to rate each classroom on the Consortium's global fidelity measure. Implementation fidelity was assessed as moderate on this fidelity measure (2.0 on a 3-point scale).

Child Outcomes: The PCER study investigated the effects of Curiosity Corner on math, oral language, literacy, phonological awareness, and behavioral child outcomes in preschool and kindergarten. The study found no statistically significant effects on any of these child outcomes in preschool. The study found that children in kindergarten who had participated in preschool classrooms that implemented the Curiosity Corner curriculum had higher scores on two of three measures of literacy development than children in kindergarten who had not experienced the Curiosity Corner curriculum in preschool classrooms. There were no other statistically significant effects on child outcomes in kindergarten.

Reference:

Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research (PCER) Consortium. (2008). Chapter 5. Curiosity Corner: Success for All Foundation. In Effects of Preschool Curriculum Programs on School Readiness (pp. 75–83). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Research, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

DLM Early Childhood Express®

Full Review & Ratings
Two star rating graphicMinimal Evidence

At the time of this review, there are two research studies on the DLM Early Childhood Express®, both of which are included as part of the Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research Consortium (PCER, 2008). However, both of these studies evaluated the DLM Early Childhood Express® in combination with another curriculum (Open Court Reading Pre-K and Pre-K Mathematics). Additionally, the study of DLM Math + Pre-K Mathematics only used the DLM Early Childhood Express® Math software, not the entire comprehensive curriculum. Therefore, the results should be interpreted with caution because it is impossible to separate the effects of the DLM comprehensive curriculum from the supplemental curricula included in the evaluation.

Rigorous Research Design: Both research studies used randomized controlled trials. Classrooms were randomly assigned to a treatment (i.e., using the DLM Early Childhood Express® in combination with another curriculum) or control group, which used another curriculum (e.g., The HighScope Preschool Curriculum, The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool).

Sample and Generalizability: Both PCER studies included children from diverse race-ethnic backgrounds. The DLM + Open Court Reading study did not provide a clear indication of the socio-economic status of the study sample, while the DLM Math + Pre-K Mathematics study included children from low-income backgrounds.

Fidelity of Implementation: In the DLM + Open Court Reading study, teachers participated in a four-day workshop training on the curriculum. Teachers implemented the curriculum with a medium to high level of fidelity (2.3), as measured by a global fidelity rating scale ranging from 0 to 3. In the DLM Math + Pre-K Mathematics study, teachers were in their second year of implementation of the curricula and received ongoing on-site training in addition to four-day training during the previous pilot year. In this study, teachers implemented with a medium to high level of fidelity as well (2.65). In both of the PCER studies, specific information related to the implementation of DLM alone was not reported.

Child Outcomes: The DLM + Open Court Reading study highlighted positive outcomes for early reading skills (e.g., letter-word identification, alphabet knowledge, conventions), phonological awareness, and language development. There were no statistically significant findings for mathematics or children's social and learning behaviors. The DLM Math + Pre-K Mathematics study found positive child outcomes in early mathematics skills at the end of the pre-kindergarten year, but these were not maintained in the kindergarten year. There were no statistically significant findings for early reading skills, phonological awareness, language development, or social and learning behaviors.

Reference:

Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research Consortium. (2008). Effects of preschool curriculum programs on school readiness (NCER 2008–2009). National Center for Education Research, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Frog Street Pre-K

Full Review & Ratings
One star rating graphicNo Evidence

At the time of this review, there are no available published research studies on Frog Street Pre-K. The publisher highlights pre- and post-data from various school districts that suggest children in Frog Street Pre-K classrooms make gains in language, literacy, and math outcomes. More rigorous research published in peer-reviewed journals is needed in order to establish evidence for positive effects of Frog Street Pre-K on children's learning outcomes.

Galileo® Pre-K Online Curriculum

Full Review & Ratings
One star rating graphicNo Evidence

At the time of this review, there are no available published research studies on the Galileo® Pre-K Online Curriculum (Galileo® Pre-K). Galileo® Pre-K is an assessment system with an aligned curriculum. Assessment Technology Incorporated (ATI), the publisher, highlights a descriptive study about Galileo® Pre-K. However, the study lacks a comparison group and it is unclear whether children were in classrooms in which both the Galileo® Pre-K curriculum and assessment tool were used. More rigorous research is needed in order to establish evidence for positive effects of Galileo® Pre-K on children's learning outcomes.

HighScope Preschool Curriculum

Full Review & Ratings
Two star rating graphicMinimal Evidence

At the time of this review, there is one set of research studies that has been published as part of the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) in 2000 and 2009 (Zill, O'Donnell, & Sorongon, 2003; Aikens, Kopack Klein, Tarullo, & West, 2013). Additionally, the publisher highlights the Perry Preschool Project and the HighScope Preschool Curriculum Comparison Study, seminal studies that rigorously tested the impact of HighScope on child outcomes longitudinally. Long-term findings from these studies showed improved outcomes across the areas of education, economic performance, crime prevention, family relationships, and health (Schweinhart, 2006; Schweinhart & Weikart, 1997; Schweinhart, Weikart, & Larner, 1986). However, these studies were not included in the following rating as they were conducted in the 1960s and used an older version of the curriculum.

Rigorous Research Design: The FACES 2000 and 2009 studies used a longitudinal, descriptive design. The FACES studies collected information from Head Start classrooms that were already implementing the HighScope Preschool Curriculum.

Sample and Generalizability: The FACES samples included a representative sample of children who were attending Head Start programs across the nation. The sample included children from primarily low-income and diverse race-ethnic backgrounds.

Fidelity of Implementation: Teacher training on the curriculum and fidelity of implementation were not assessed in the FACES studies.

Child Outcomes: The FACES 2000 study found that Head Start classrooms that used the HighScope Preschool Curriculum had children with larger fall-spring gains in letter recognition and cooperative classroom behaviors in comparison to children in classrooms that used neither the HighScope Preschool Curriculum nor The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool. Children in the HighScope Preschool Curriculum classrooms also showed greater improvement in total behavior problems and hyperactive problem behavior. Due to the descriptive nature of these findings, it cannot be concluded that the curriculum caused these positive child outcomes. No child outcome data were reported related to implementation of the HighScope Preschool Curriculum for the FACES 2009 study.

References:

Aikens, N., Kopack Klein, A., Tarullo, L., and West, J. (2013). Getting ready for kindergarten: Children's progress during Head Start: FACES 2009 report. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Schweinhart, L. J. (2006). The HighScope Perry Preschool study through age 40: Summary, conclusions, and frequently asked questions. Ypsilanti, MI: HighScope Educational Research Foundation.

Schweinhart, L. J., & Weikart., D. P. (1997). The HighScope preschool curriculum comparison study through age 23. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 12, 117–143.

Schweinhart, L. J., Weikart, D. P., & Larner, M. B. (1986). Consequences of three preschool curriculum models through age 15. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 1, 15–45.

Zill, R., O'Donnell, K., & Sorongon, A. (2003). Head Start FACES (2000): A whole-child perspective on program performance: Fourth progress report. Washington, DC: Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Learn Every Day™: The Preschool Curriculum

Full Review & Ratings
One star rating graphicNo Evidence

At the time of this review, there are no available published research studies on Learn Every Day™: The Preschool Curriculum (Learn Every Day™). Research investigating the curriculum is needed in order to establish evidence on children's learning outcomes.

Opening the World of Learning™ (OWL) ©2014

Full Review & Ratings
Three star rating graphicModerate Evidence

At the time of this review, several studies have evaluated OWL. The following selected studies contributed to the rating. The Enhanced Language and Literacy Success (ELLS) study investigated the impact of OWL as part of an Early Reading First Program, with additional curricular supports for emergent writing and DLLs (Wilson, Dickinson, & Rowe, 2013). The Boston Public Schools (BPS) preschool studies used OWL as the language and literacy curriculum and Building Blocks as the mathematics curriculum (Weiland, 2016; Weiland & Yoshikawa, 2013). Thus, the results should be interpreted with caution because it is impossible to separate the effects of the OWL curriculum from the other curriculum materials included in the evaluations. In addition, evaluations of the Georgia Summer Transition Program investigated six-week summer transition programs for children entering pre-kindergarten that used the English or the Spanish-English version of OWL (Maxwell, Yi, Kraus, & Hume, 2013; Early, LaForett, Kraus, & Hume, 2016).

Rigorous Research Design: The ELLS and BPS studies each used a regression discontinuity design, which is a rigorous quasi-experimental design. The Georgia Summer Transition Program evaluations each used a pre-post descriptive study design without a comparison group.

Sample and Generalizability: The samples in these studies were ethnically and racially diverse and included low-income children in public preschool classrooms.

Fidelity of Implementation: Teachers in the ELLS study participated in a two-day summer workshop, cross-site professional development meetings, school-based teacher study groups, and weekly coaching focused on implementing OWL and supporting emergent writing and DLLs. The ELLS study assessed fidelity during two classroom observations per year, and fidelity ranged from 60 to 90 percent by the second year of the program. Teachers in the BPS studies were in their second year of using the curriculum. They were offered five days of training in their first year of using the curriculum, and two days of training in their second year. In addition, teachers received weekly to biweekly coaching both years. The BPS coaches were trained on a fidelity instrument, and fidelity was moderately high. Teachers of the dual language Georgia Summer Transition Program participated in a one-day workshop that included an overview of OWL and training on culturally competent approaches to supporting DLLs and their families. This study did not report any measures of fidelity of implementation. Teachers in the Georgia Summer Transition Program that used the English version of OWL received training and support on arts education and activities. Information on fidelity of teachers to the curriculum was not provided.

Child Outcomes: The ELLS study of OWL with additional curricular supports found positive effects on some language and literacy outcomes for English speakers and DLLs. In the BPS evaluation, participating in public preschool classrooms that implemented the OWL and Building Blocks curricula was associated with positive child outcomes for language and early reading skills, emotional development, executive function skills, and mathematics. Similar positive effects resulted for children with special needs in the BPS study. Children who participated in the Georgia Summer Transition Program using the English version of OWL had statistically significant higher post-test scores than pre-test scores on nine measures of language and literacy development, color identification, and number naming, but not on counting. Similarly, in the Georgia Summer Transition Program that used the Spanish-English version of OWL, children had statistically significant higher Spanish and English vocabulary skills, but not mathematics skills.

References:

Early, D. M., LaForett, D. R., Kraus, S., & Hume, K., (2016). Evaluation findings from Georgia’s 2015 Rising Pre-Kindergarten Summer Transition Program. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, FPG Child Development Institute.

Maxwell, K., Yi, P., Kraus, S. and Hume, K. (2013). Evaluation Findings from Georgia’s 2012 Pre-K Summer Transition Program. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute

Weiland, C. (2016). Impacts of the Boston prekindergarten program on the school readiness of young children with special needs. Developmental Psychology, 52(11), 1763–1776. https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0000168

Weiland, C. & Yoshikawa, H. (2013). Impacts of a Prekindergarten Program on Children’s Mathematics, Language, Literacy, Executive Function, and Emotional Skills Child Development, November/December 2013, 84:6, Pages 2112–2130

Wilson, S. J., Dickinson, D.K., & Rowe, D.W. (2013). Impact of an Early Reading First program on the language and literacy achievement of children from diverse language backgrounds. Early Childhood Research Quarterly.

The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool, 6th Edition

Full Review & Ratings
One star rating graphicNo Evidence

At the time of this review, there are two sets of research studies that have been published, as part of the Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research Consortium (PCER) and the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) (Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research Consortium, 2008; Zill, O'Donnell, & Sorongon, 2003). The publisher, Teaching Strategies, has conducted an implementation study and an effectiveness study; but because these are not published in peer-reviewed journals, these studies were not included in the following rating.

Rigorous Research Design: In the PCER studies, The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool was evaluated using a randomized controlled trial. Head Start FACES was a longitudinal, descriptive study.

Sample and Generalizability: Across the PCER and FACES studies, the majority of samples were from public preschools and Head Start programs, which included children from primarily low-income and diverse race-ethnic backgrounds.

Fidelity of Implementation: In the PCER studies, teachers were in their second year of curriculum implementation. They attended four to five refresher training sessions that included a mix of lecture, small-group projects, video viewing, and hands-on practical application activities. Technical assistance was also provided. Fidelity of implementation was assessed using a global implementation fidelity measure developed by the research team. Fidelity was rated as medium (2.11 on a scale of 0–3). The FACES study did not provide information on training or implementation.

Child Outcomes: The PCER studies investigated the effects of The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool on math, oral language, print knowledge, phonological awareness, and behavioral child outcomes in pre-k and kindergarten. The studies found no statistically significant effects on any of these child outcomes. The FACES study found that The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool did not significantly predict gains in children's outcomes (e.g., pre-reading, oral communication skills).

References:

Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research Consortium. (2008). Effects of Preschool Curriculum Programs on School Readiness (NCER 2008-2009). National Center for Education Research, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Zill, R., O'Donnell, K., & Sorongon, A. (2003). Head Start FACES (2000): A Whole-Child Perspective on Program Performance: Fourth Progress Report. Washington, DC: Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The InvestiGator Club® Just for Threes Learning System

Full Review & Ratings
One star rating graphicNo Evidence

At the time of this review, there are no available published research studies on The InvestiGator Club® Just for Threes Learning System (Just for Threes). Research is needed in order to establish evidence for positive effects of Just for Threes on children's learning outcomes.

The InvestiGator Club® PreKindergarten Learning System

Full Review & Ratings
One star rating graphicNo Evidence

At the time of this review, there are no available published research studies on The InvestiGator Club® PreKindergarten Learning System (InvestiGator PreK). An evaluation funded by the publisher, without a comparison group, suggests children in InvestiGator PreK classrooms make gains in literacy, math, science, social studies, oral language, fine arts, and music outcomes. However, this study is not included in the rating, because it was not published in a peer-reviewed journal. More rigorous research is needed in order to establish evidence for positive effects of InvestiGator PreK on children's learning outcomes.

Tools of the Mind®

Full Review & Ratings
Two star rating graphicMinimal Evidence

At the time of this review, Tools of the Mind® has been evaluated in two key studies, a research study published in a peer-reviewed journal (Barnett, Jung, Yarosz, Thomas, Hornbeck, Stechuk, & Burns, 2008) and an experimental evaluation of Tools of the Mind® conducted by Vanderbilt University and funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (e.g., Farran, Wilson, Meador, Norvell, & Nesbitt, 2015). In addition, other studies have investigated the curriculum's effect on children's executive function (Diamond, Barnett, Thomas, & Monroe, 2007; Solomon, Plamondon, O'Hara, Finch, Goco, Chaban, Huggins, Ferguson, & Tannock, 2018). Studies of the kindergarten version of Tools of the Mind® and the curriculum enhancement Tools of the Mind®—Play are not included in this review.

Rigorous Design: Three of the Tools of the Mind® evaluations used cluster randomized experimental designs (Barnett et al., 2008; Farran et al., 2015; Solomon, et al., 2018). The study by Diamond and colleagues used random assignment but did not include pre-test data collection on children.

Sample and Generalizability: Across the studies, the samples were from varied settings (e.g., public preschool, day care, and Head Start), including children from primarily low-income and diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. The study by Solomon and colleagues was conducted in a Canadian urban center, while the other studies were conducted in the United States.

Fidelity of Implementation: In the study conducted by Barnett and colleagues, teachers had four days of training prior to the school year as well as a half-day workshop and five one-hour lunch meetings during the school year. Teachers also met with a trainer weekly during the school year for 30-minute classroom visits and could schedule additional time with the trainer, as needed. To assess fidelity, Barnett and colleagues used an observational checklist. They found that by the end of the year, teachers were fully implementing six of seven key environmental features. In the Vanderbilt and Diamond studies, teachers had four days of training prior to the school year as well as three one-day workshops during the school year. In the following year, teachers were trained at a one-day opening workshop prior to the school year, as well as three half-day workshops during school year, and had coaching sessions every six weeks with a Tools of the Mind® staff member. Both studies used an observational checklist to assess fidelity and found that nearly all teachers implemented significant parts of the curriculum with high fidelity. In the Solomon study, teachers participated in five training sessions during the study period as well as ongoing coaching. Solomon and colleagues developed a "Tools Implementation Checklist" of the essential activities in the curriculum in order to measure fidelity. They found that the Tools of the Mind® teachers implemented the curriculum with "moderate success."

Child Outcomes: Barnett and colleagues found a positive effect of Tools of the Mind® on children's behavior but no effects on their language and literacy development or math, problem-solving, or visual-motor skills. The Vanderbilt evaluation investigated the effects of participating in Tools of the Mind® preschools on child outcomes in language, literacy, mathematics, self-regulation, and behavior in preschool, kindergarten, and first grade for two cohorts of children. The evaluation found one positive and some negative effects on child outcomes that varied by learning domain, grade level, and cohort. Diamond and colleagues found that children in Tools of the Mind® classrooms showed higher executive function skills than other children. Solomon and colleagues found that, overall, children in Tools of the Mind® classrooms had similar outcomes as children in comparison classrooms that used a different play-based curriculum. However, they did find a positive effect on one of the measures of self-regulation for children who had high initial levels of hyperactivity.

References:

Barnett, W.S., Jung, K., Yarosz, D.J., Thomas, J., Hornbeck, A., Stechuk, R., & Burns, S. (2008). Educational effects of the Tools of the Mind curriculum: A randomized trial. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 23(3), 299–313.

Diamond, A., Barnett, W.S., Thomas, J., & Munro, S. (2007). Preschool program improves cognitive control. Science, 318(5855), 1387–1388. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1151148

Farran, D.C., Wilson, S.J., Meador, D., Norvell, J., & Nesbitt, K. (2015). Experimental Evaluation of the Tools of the Mind Pre-K Curriculum: Technical Report. (Working Paper). Peabody Research Institute, Vanderbilt University. Retrieved from https://my.vanderbilt.edu/toolsofthemindevaluation/files/2011/12/Tools-Technical-Report-Final-September-2015.pdf

Solomon, T., Plamondon, A., O'Hara, A., Finch, H., Goco, G., Chaban, P., Huggins, L., Ferguson, B., & Tannock, R. (2018). A cluster randomized-controlled trial of the Impact of the Tools of the Mind curriculum on self-regulation in Canadian preschoolers. Frontiers in Psychology8, 2366.