The central goal of this study is to enhance the capacity of child-care centers serving socioeconomically disadvantaged communities to implement evidence-based curriculum components and teaching practices that promote school readiness. A related goal is to test the efficacy of a sustainable, technology-assisted platform fo professional development support, Better Kid Care (BKC), managed by Cooperative Extension. 72 child-care centers will be recruited from more than 372 eligible centers serving low income children in 7 economically stressed counties in Pennsylvania. These centers struggle to provide evidence-based educational programming, despite an interest in doing so, due to low levels of teacher education, high staff turnover, and inadequate access to curriculum materials and professional development support. Participants will include 72 child care center directors, approximately 200 classroom teachers, and approximately 600 4-year-old prekindergarten children. The curriculum components and teaching strategies of the REDI (Research-based, Developmentally Informed) program will be used, including the Preschool PATHS Curriculum to promote social-emotional learning, and three evidence-based components (i.e., dialogic reading, phonological awareness training, and alphabet center activities) to foster language-emergent literacy skills. The technology-assisted distance learning platform of BKC will be used to extend professional development support. Classroom teachers will be able to access brief tutorials with videos demonstrating how to deliver lessons and illustrating high-quality teaching practices. In addition, center directors will be trained to serve as local coaches, thereby providing a foundation for program sustainability in the face of high teacher turnover. The BKC platform will be used to support virtual learning communities of child-care center directors, who will be trained to monitor the fidelity of program implementation and coach teachers in the application of the curriculum components and teaching strategies. The evaluation will use a rigorous, randomized-controlled design, with multi- method measurement of child and teacher outcomes; it will assess short-term sustainability in the child care centers and follow children as they transition to kindergarten.
There is a dire need to provide child-care centers with evidence-based curriculum components and professional development support, in order to improve the school readiness of low-income children. This study seeks to replicate the positive effects of the REDI program in the child-care center context, using a technology- assisted platform for distance learning to support the professional development of classroom teachers and center directors.
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