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Early Literacy Instruction and Pre-K Curriculum in Philadelphia

Released March 2020

This study is a three-year initiative to provide early childhood programs in Philadelphia with information about what is working in their classrooms to support children’s early literacy and language development.  The research explores the links between teacher professional development, classroom instruction, and children’s literacy and language development during the early pre-school years. Pre-kindergarten education programs are increasingly expected to significantly improve children’s literacy skills before they enter formal schooling. While there is a large body of literature that supports the emphasis of language and literacy curricula in early childhood programs, much of this work has not been put into widespread practice.

The goal of this work is to understand the context of children’s literacy and language development before they reach kindergarten. The study includes more than 70 pre-kindergarten classrooms across Philadelphia.

We are interviewing center directors and teachers about their professional development experiences and the challenges and successes they have had in implementing literacy programming into their classrooms. We are also observing instructional time in classrooms to learn how to better support teachers as they are tasked with preparing children with the skills they need to succeed in kindergarten and beyond. Finally, we are assessing children’s literacy skills to understand the efficacy of certain components of teacher training in supporting children’s growth.

Confidentiality is a key element of this study. The privacy and confidentiality of staff and students involved in this study are strictly protected. The results of this study will add practical evidence to our understanding of what works in classrooms that serve a diverse student population. The goal is not to evaluate individual centers, teachers, or students. Rather, the goal is to see what the data tell us in general about teachers’ experiences with training and the work they do in the classroom. Participants have the right to choose whether to participate in this study, and participants have the right to review all consent forms and research documents at any time during the study and up to three years after the completion of the study.

We are grateful for the support of Philadelphia early childhood programs and educators for this important work. Any questions about this study can be addressed to our principal investigator, Alyn Turner.

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