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Montessori public school pre-k programs and the school readiness of low-income Black and Latino children

Within the United States, there are a variety of early education models and curricula aimed at promoting young children's pre-academic, social, and behavioral skills. This study, using data from the Miami School Readiness Project (Winsler et al., 2008, 2012), examined the school readiness gains of low income Latino (n = 7,045) and Black (n = 6,700) children enrolled in 2 different types of Title-1 public school pre-K programs: those in programs using the Montessori curriculum and those in more conventional programs using the High/Scope curriculum with a literacy supplement. Parents and teachers reported on children's socio-emotional and behavioral skills with the Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (Lebuffe & Naglieri, 1999), whereas children's pre-academic skills (cognitive, motor, and language) were assessed directly with the Learning Accomplishment Profile-Diagnostic (Nehring, Nehring, Bruni, & Randolph, 1992) at the beginning and end of their 4-year-old pre-K year. All children, regardless of curriculum, demonstrated gains across pre-academic, socio-emotional, and behavioral skills throughout the pre-K year; however, all children did not benefit equally from Montessori programs. Latino children in Montessori programs began the year at most risk in pre-academic and behavioral skills, yet exhibited the greatest gains across these domains and ended the year scoring above national averages. Conversely, Black children exhibited healthy gains in Montessori, but they demonstrated slightly greater gains when attending more conventional pre-K programs. Findings have implications for tailoring early childhood education programs for Latino and Black children from low-income communities. (author abstract)
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United States
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