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Evidence-based Program for the Integration of Curricula (EPIC): A Comprehensive Initiative for Low-Income Preschool Children

The literacy and early developmental problems facing low-income preschool children seriously threaten their academic achievement and social adjustment. Such problems are among the most longstanding and important issues in educational and developmental research and practice. Increased attention to the preschool years has spotlighted this period of life as a critical time for developing skills needed to be successful in school. Low-income preschool children are disproportionately at risk for developmental lags and poor school performance-problems exacerbated in urban settings with widespread poverty and limited institutional resources. Over the past 10 years, researchers have sought to ameliorate these problems by considering how to link early literacy and learning to broad dimensions of children's psychosocial well-being and socio-cultural context. However, despite the dire need, there have been too few attempts to integrate these different areas of inquiry in early childhood development or to examine the interactions between and among them through rigorous multivariate, longitudinal study of evidence-based integrative curricula. In this application, we draw upon a developmental ecological conceptual framework to address these limitations in the existing literature. The primary aim of this application is to conduct a series of studies that will additively connect previously isolated areas of research and theory into a fully-integrated early literacy, numeracy, and social/emotional adjustment curriculum for low-income preschool children living in diverse, high-risk urban settings. The integrated curriculum will be developed, tested, and refined in partnership with researchers and practitioners. It will be built upon empirical research in three focal areas: (1) early literacy and language, (2) early numeracy and (3) social/emotional adjustment, with special attention to foundational approaches to learning and emotional development, and to the differential family, classroom, and neighborhood contexts within which development occurs. The integrated curricula will be formed and tested in four consecutive phases: parallel curricula integration phase (year 1), parallel randomized field trials phase (year 2), full curricular integration phase (year 3), and randomized longitudinal experiment phase (years 4-5). The strength of this application is its integration of these areas of research in such a way that applications are configured practically to the real preschool classroom environment, and the families and cultures of urban Head Start children. Overall, the project's goals are (a) to develop an evidence-based integrated early literacy, numeracy, and social/emotional adjustment curriculum, and (b) to conduct a randomized, longitudinal experiment that will investigate the efficacy of the integrated curriculum in alternative forms and across multiple preschool settings, using state-of-the-art research methods.
Resource Type:
Administration for Children and Families/OPRE Projects
Principal Investigator(s):

Related resources include summaries, versions, measures (instruments), or other resources in which the current document plays a part. Research products funded by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation are related to their project records.

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