“PreK On My Way” Evaluation
Few pre-K curricula are supported by rigorous evaluation research.
Publicly supported pre-K programs represent the largest segment of the U.S. pre-K market for 4-year-olds. An increasing number of these programs are required to select a curriculum from an approved list of high-quality curricula that meet high evidentiary standards or use a research-based curriculum aligned to state or program learning standards. Yet only some pre-K curricula have been studied using rigorous evaluation methods, and those that have rarely yield clear positive impacts.
NORC has developed an innovative design to assess Scholastic’s curriculum.
Scholastic hired NORC at the University of Chicago to rigorously evaluate its newest comprehensive pre-K curriculum, “PreK On My Way” (PKOMW). PKOMW integrates academic and social-emotional learning, prioritizes play and fun, and is culturally responsive. Through its Spanish curriculum, PKOMW substantively addresses the needs of bilingual learners, holding promise for all children and specifically for bilingual learners.
NORC developed a series of four modular evaluation design options to document PKOMW’s implementation and impact and provide data needed to scale the curriculum nationally. The evaluation design options—a pilot study, an implementation study, a case study design, and a large-scale rigorous experimental impact evaluation—allow each to be implemented as a stand-alone study or combined, providing Scholastic with maximum flexibility in reaching its research and evaluation goals.
NORC is measuring the curriculum’s impacts across multiple domains.
Of the few rigorous impact evaluations of pre-K curricula conducted to date, most lack an implementation fidelity component, making it challenging to put the impact results in context. One of PKOMW’s differentiators is its promise of low-hurdle implementation for preschools and teachers. It is of high value to tell PKOMW’s implementation stories, capture variation, and then put impact results in the context of implementation factors.
PKOMW’s balanced emphasis on academic and social and emotional skill building and its availability in English and Spanish are further differentiators to be captured by the evaluation research. NORC’s mixed-methods impact and implementation evaluation design uses optimal design features, instruments, and methods to tell the implementation story, detects impacts across multiple domains (literacy, math, social and emotional learning), and pays particular attention to discerning impacts for bilingual learners. Evaluation evidence that reflects the value of PKOMW’s easy-to-implement, comprehensive approach will help differentiate it from other evidence-based curricula.