A three-year effort to improve the quality of early-childhood programs throughout Detroit by training teachers, supervisors, and agency administrators has proved to be an effective model, according to a recent self-evaluation by the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation.
And it’s a plan that has benefited and should continue to benefit close to 8,500 children in the metropolitan area each year, the evaluation by the Ypsilanti, Mich., organization concludes.
Supported by the Detroit-based McGregor Fund, a private foundation, the project’s goal was to improve the professional skills of those who work directly with children, certify trainers who could provide ongoing support to teachers, and certify teachers at “centers of excellence,” which could serve as model programs.
To accomplish those goals, the training initiative provided courses for teachers on High/Scope’s “active learning” curriculum for children. Those courses were combined with a certification program for trainers, who are “vital in providing frontline staff with the necessary grounding in child development and effective curriculum practices,” the report says.
A number of lessons were learned over the three-year period, which lasted from the beginning of 2000 to the end of last year. For example, researchers found that participants could benefit from training no matter what their educational levels, which ranged from high school diplomas to master’s degrees.
When preschool teachers, as well as caregivers for infants and toddlers, receive training, they become more excited about their work and eager to implement what they have learned, the report says.
Another unexpected result was that the teachers welcomed the chance to mentor other teachers in their programs.
The authors of the evaluation also conclude that the work should not end.
“For the project’s impact to be sustained, systemwide training must remain a dynamic and ongoing activity within the early-childhood community,” the researchers write. Otherwise, they add, “stagnation and turnover threaten to reverse hard-won gains.”
The High/Scope Educational Research Foundation is a research, training, and advocacy organization for early-childhood education. It it best known for its longitudinal study of the effects of preschool education on children who attended the Perry Preschool in Ypsilanti in the 1960s.
More information on the evaluation of the McGregor-financed training project is available online at www.highscope.org.
—Linda Jacobson firstname.lastname@example.org