This competing continuation proposal describes the "next steps" in a program of research initiated in 2003, entitled the Head Start REDI (Research based, Developmentally Informed) project. The REDI project was designed to enhance the impact of Head Start on child school readiness by promoting teachers'capacities to integrate empirically-based instructional strategies with their ongoing programming. Two domains of school readiness were targeted: 1) language development/emergent literacy skills, and 2) social-emotional competencies. The initial randomized trial (involving 356 children from 44 Head Start classrooms) demonstrated improvements in teaching quality in REDI classrooms, based upon observer ratings of language use, instructional support, and emotion coaching. In addition, children who received REDI showed enhanced vocabulary, emergent literacy skills, social competence, and learning engagement, and reduced aggression at the end of the Head Start year, relative to children attending "usual practice" Head Start classrooms. This proposal for continuation has two major aims.
The first aim i s to conduct follow-up assessments with children who participated in the initial trial to evaluate the long-term effects of the REDI program on child school adjustment in the later elementary years (grades 3 and 5.) In the context of this aim, we also plan to examine transactional influences over time between trajectories of skill gains in child language/literacy skills and social-emotional competencies, and to explore potential moderation of sustained program effects as a function of early elementary school context (i.e., instructional quality, classroom context, and teacher-student relationship quality). The second major aim of this proposal is to evaluate the added benefit of a parent-focused extension of the REDI program using a randomized controlled design with a new sample of 200 children attending Head Start classrooms in the original counties. Building upon the Head Start tradition of parent involvement, the goal of this parent-focused extension of REDI is to improve cross-setting support for child language and social-emotional skill development during the Head Start year and provide transition support for children as they move from Head Start into kindergarten. Longitudinal assessments of this new sample will extend over a three-year period (pre-test at age 4;post-test at the end of kindergarten, and follow-up assessment at the end of first-grade). Multi-method, multi-informant measures will be used to assess the impact of the parent-focused extension of REDI on children s oral language skills, emergent literacy skills, learning engagement, social-emotional competencies and behavior problems. We also will evaluate program impact on the targeted parenting practices and determine the degree to which they mediate child outcomes.

Public Health Relevance

Children growing up in poverty are particularly likely to enter school without the language and social-emotional skills they need to adapt and achieve, placing them at risk for increasing delays in academic attainment, along with behavioral difficulties that have long-term deleterious effects. This research evaluates the short- and long- term impact of infusing "research-based" instructional strategies into Head Start programs in ways that support both teachers and parents, and that promote child language and social-emotional readiness skills, and thereby enhance child readiness for school and foster school attainment. The focus on evaluation and extension of a school readiness program targeted to poor children is highly significant. Results could provide improved strategies for intervening with such high risk populations.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Psychosocial Development, Risk and Prevention Study Section (PDRP)
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Griffin, James
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Pennsylvania State University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
University Park
United States
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Anthony, Christopher J; DiPerna, James Clyde; Amato, Paul R (2014) Divorce, approaches to learning, and children's academic achievement: a longitudinal analysis of mediated and moderated effects. J Sch Psychol 52:249-61
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