When teachers in child-care and early-childhood programs receive training focused on improving children’s early literacy skills, the language skills of those children improve, according to a federally financed study of children in Florida.
“Findings From Project Upgrade,” released March 22, focuses on an effort in Dade County to improve the skills of teachers working in 162 centers serving children from low-income families.
Before the start of the project, assessments of the teachers showed they were spending little time on activities that are known to improve young children’s literacy skills.
The two-year intervention included such strategies as mentoring and technical assistance for teachers on language activities, such as print awareness and vocabulary building.
After the training, the teachers showed substantial increases in the amount of time they spent on such activities, according to the study led by Abt Associates, a research organization based in Cambridge, Mass.
The results of the coaching was similar for all teachers, regardless of their academic backgrounds and training.
“This focused training and ongoing support eliminated the effects of teachers’ educational background on their support for children’s literacy,” the authors write.
The impact of the training on teachers’ instruction also was generally stronger for those whose primary language was Spanish, who made up more than half the sample, than for primarily English-speaking teachers.
“An important goal for the curricula,” the authors write, “was to help English-language learners progress in English before they entered English-only kindergarten classes, and the two interventions appear to have been quite effective in doing that.”
The study is part of a larger project by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to test whether child-care-subsidy policies and strategies designed to improve outcomes for families are effective.
A version of this article appeared in the April 18, 2007 edition of Education Week