A recent analysis of a cluster-randomized trial of a pre-K math intervention by McCormick and colleagues provides insight on the differences between public school pre-K instruction compared to pre-K in community-based organizations. The study investigates the differences in instruction between public school settings and community-based organizations as well as the effects of a math intervention called Making Pre-K Count (MPC), which includes the implementation of a 2-year math curriculum along with training and coaching for teachers. The study was conducted in New York City and consisted of 35 sites (24 public schools and 11 community-based organizations) assigned to the treatment and 34 sites (23 public schools and 11 community-based organizations) assigned to the control group. In total, there 1389 students from 173 classrooms enrolled in the study.
The differences between two settings:
- Lead teachers in public school settings are significantly more likely to have a master’s degree (96.6% of lead teachers) than lead teachers in community-based organizations (57.8% of lead teachers).
- Public school settings did offer significantly more daily math instruction, with the mean difference of 11.96 minutes daily.
The positive effects of the MPC were more noticeable in public school settings.
- Public school settings observed a positive impact on the followings:
- the number of teacher-lead and informal math activities (ES = +0.69),
- the minutes of teacher-lead and informal math activities (ES = +0.43),
- the percentage of classrooms with moderate to high math activity quality scores (ES = +0.45)
- The only statistically significant effect for classrooms in community-based organizations was for the number of minutes of math per child (ES = +0.77).
The authors note that the impacts on pre-K settings in community-based organizations were often similar to those of public-school settings, but the smaller number of community-based sites may have limited the power of this sample and prevented the detection of statistically significant findings.
These findings reveal differences between public school pre-K classrooms and community-based organization pre-K classrooms, which is important because community-based organizations often serve students from lower SES households. The MPC resulted in more significant effects observed in public school settings but appeared to benefit both types of classrooms.
Source: McCormick, M. P., Mattera, S. K., Maier, M. F., Xia, S., Jacob, R., & Morris, P. A. (2022). Different settings, different patterns of impacts: Effects of a Pre-K math intervention in a mixed-delivery system. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 58, 136–154. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecresq.2021.08.005