Pre-K Program Evaluation Using Logic Model Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Public Program Quality Evaluation

Overview of the Program and the Program Rationale

In 2011, approximately 23% of all children in the United States were children of immigrants. Many of these children have come from countries where the educational systems have not prepared them with competitive skills that will support a good standard of living. Various policies to address this issue have been proposed. Of the feasible options, the policy most likely to achieve popular approval is the provision of preschool education to all low-immigrant children. In part, the basis for this support is the historical national approval of programs such as Head Start. Recently, the nation has seen an upswing in state-funded pre-K programs that focus on preparing low-income 4-year-old children for kindergarten and elementary school. Head Start programs continue in a parallel manner, and necessarily so, as only a handful of states offer pubic school-based pre-K programs to all students in their districts. Interesting results have been found in a comparison between Head Start programs and pre-K program in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Head Start was found to improve the health outcomes of enrolled preschoolers while the school-based pre-K programs showed more improvement in early literacy performance. Head Start did not show improvements in social-emotional effects, but the school-based pre-K programs did. The two programs were equivalent in early mathematics learning.

An evaluation was conducted of the school-based Pre-K program in Tulsa, Oklahoma that is sufficiently robust to provide a model that can be used in other districts that implement pre-K programs. At the time of the evaluation, Oklahoma was one of only three states in the U.S. offering free pre-K programs to all students ages three and four years of age in the state's participating districts. The rigorous evaluation enabled the same test to be administered to 4-year-olds beginning pre-K and 5-year-olds beginning kindergarten in September 2001. Moreover, strict eligibility cut-offs based on date of birth were utilized, which fostered control for selection effects, and possible effects that could be attributed to gender, race or ethnicity, and free or reduced school lunch eligibility. The Tulsa pre-K program evaluation demonstrated strong positive effects on language development and cognitive test scores. Hispanic children showed the most benefit, followed by black children, who especially made strong gains when attending full-day programs.

Program Description

The pre-K program is available to all 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds regardless of household income levels. The program is funded by state general revenues and is arranged to flow-through from the public schools to the school-based pre-K programs. The maximum number of children in any pre-K group is 20. The maximum child to staff ratio is 10:1, but a ratio of 6:1 is the preferred target. Whenever possible, the pre-K program collaborates with day care centers and Head Start programs.

The proposed program is for a two-year, intensive focused intervention for preschoolers from low-income families. Wrap-around childcare for working parents is a component of the program. The curriculum is research-based from proven pre-K programs, and includes engaging pre-school language development, reading, mathematics, and behavioral interventions that have been demonstrated to foster the academic and attentional skills of preschoolers.

Statement of Need

A disproportionate number of immigrant children have parents with limited fluency in English and little education, an issue that is particularly problematic for developing English proficiency when preschoolers are in the daily at-home presence of one parent. The low household incomes of immigrant families establish conditions that preclude purchasing high-quality preschool care. Moreover, undocumented status of parents discourages contact with public officials and the pursuit of complex paperwork to enroll their children in programs or apply for subsidies.

II. The Intervention Methods Used

The pre-K program is designed to comply with the cooperative learning framework utilized by Success for All programs, which is characterized by embedded motivating challenges and opportunities for rich language-building discussion. The fundamental curricula are enriched through the use of a variety of media, activities, and props.

The curiosity corner is designed to engage preschool children in theme-based creative activities that expand their vocabularies and build skills in art, math, music, science, and social behavior. The center is driven by activities that include cooperative learning, exploratory centers, hearing stories, making up stories and engaging in make-believe, playing games, reading circles, and singing songs. Educational videos are an integral part of the program, and the videos are viewed at school and at home with parents. The purpose of sharing the videos at home is to provide a home-school link that is focused on specific skill-building activities and the topics (letters, numbers, themes) of the week. The curiosity corner is structured around 20 thematic units that last for two-weeks. The thematic units enable the introduction of concepts that are reinforced by accompanying activities that underscore those concepts, followed by free time to engage with the concepts through other media, if desired.

III. Key Elements of the Program Field or Context

Teachers utilize the Curiosity Corner Teacher's Manual, which provides an overarching philosophy, general and specific objectives, descriptions of curriculum components and how they work together, tools for assessment, home linkage materials, and additional teacher supports for specific focus. Teachers are instructed to follow the integrated approach that is constructed of daily sequences of components. The curiosity corner curricula helps to address the instructional fidelity issue by providing structured thematic units that are rich with examples and align completely with current state and national learning objectives for early childhood education. The curricular guides provide detailed instructions and include most of the materials that are needed to implement the curriculum in an engaging and stimulating manner. Teachers receive both training and support to implement the curiosity corner program.

IV. The Client or Citizens Served

The pre-K program is designed to serve three-year-olds and four-year-olds of all income levels. However, the primary target population for the programs are children from low-income households and children who have immigrant parents for whom English is not their first language. Children from these two target groups will be given priority for enrollment and will -- barring any substantive problems -- be guaranteed matriculation from the first year of the program to the second.

V. Characteristics of Staff Providing the Service

University-educated and college-trained teachers will staff the pre-K classrooms. All of the lead teachers in the pre-K program are required to hold a B.A. degree and must also have early childhood education certification. Moreover, all of the lead teachers are compensated according to the public school LEAP schedule. Certificated staff will administer the curriculum for approximately three hours each day, with an additional hour each day devoted to outreach to parents and training parents to work at the centers.

Extensive professional development and embedded instructional coaching enables teachers and school leaders to utilize the research-based curriculum efficiently and effectively. The pre-K program has access to many of the most accomplished, experienced early childhood education teachers in the nation. This model of staff development and support provides a foundation for achieving the students' achievement goals. The ongoing peer-to-peer coaching program and onsite facilitator training and guidance ensures that competent preschool instruction and curriculum teams are available to provide support.

VI. Implementation Issues

Implementation of the curriculum and instruction takes into consideration the influence of program structure, context, session frequency, and length of day. For instance, when evaluating program implementation, it is important to ensure that weighting occurs when full-day and part-day programs are compared, and when programs that hosted by public schools are compared to programs delivered at multiple sites. Although softer indicators are likely, there may be differences that can be attributed to implementation that is unique to targeted pre-K programs or to universal pre-K programs.

VII. Program Funding and Cost

The estimated per child cost of the pre-K program is $8,000 for one year, or $16,000 for the full two years of program enrollment. An additional $4,000 is required per child for childcare. A sliding scale for costs assumed by the family would result in a fee schedule as follows: 1) For families with household incomes that are below 1.5 times the federal poverty limit, the tuition is waived in its entirety; 2) for families with household incomes that are up to 3.0 times the federal poverty limit, partial subsidies will be granted. No subsidies will be offered to higher-income families enrolling children in the pre-K program.

Logic Model

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Public Program Evaluation: Quality Performance Measurement

The components of the logic model are: Inputs, Outputs, and Outcomes. For the pre-K program the inputs are as follows: 1) Implementation of curiosity corner curriculum; 2) teacher training and staff development provided; and 3) peer-to-peer coaching provided to teachers. The logic model below contains details about the other components of the program.

Inputs

Outputs

Outcomes -- Impact

Activities

Participation

Short

Medium

Long

Implementation of curiosity corner curriculum

Teacher training and staff development provided

Peer-to-peer coaching provided to teachers

Child received dental care

Child received annual well-child check-up

Child received required immunizations on schedule

Absence of substantive injuries to child during program

Absence of substantive illness of child during…

Sources Used in Document:

References

Haskins, R. & Tienda, M. (2011). The future of immigrant children. The Future of Children. Princeton University and the Brookings Institution.

Lawrence L. Martin, L.L. & Kettner, P.M. (1996). Measuring the performance of human service programs. Sage Publications.

Neuman, W.L. (2012). Basics of social research: qualitative and quantitative approaches (3rd ed.).

Puma, M. Bell, S., Cook, R., & Heid, C. (2010, January). Head Start Impact Study Final Report, Executive Summary. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. Washington, DC.

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