Preschool curriculum: Choices that promote learning
Ongoing research has shown that preschool is beneficial not only to early childhood success, but also in providing long-term benefits (Wong, Cook, Barnett, & Jung, 2008). With standards for early childhood being generated at the national level with the announcement of the common core standards nationwide and at the state level through state-mandated early learning guidelines and benchmarks, preschools are turning to specified curriculum content and mandated outcomes for early education programs. Effects of preschool programs vary (Barnett et al., 2008) due to differences in program curriculum and method of delivery. As the knowledge and understanding of how young children learn increases, there have been modifications in how curriculum is selected and taught (Klein & Knitzer, 2006). The purpose of this research was to determine if research-based curricula are in use and if those models are effective in promoting growth and learning among preschool students. The results of the data suggest that the implementation of a research-based curriculum made a statistically significant positive difference in student progress and that the students who were taught by teachers with a state teaching certification demonstrated greater student progress than those who were taught by teachers with a two-year degree or no certification. The study also investigated teacher training and the monitoring and observation of teachers. The data suggest that training teachers before they teach the curriculum and support while teaching makes a statistically significant positive difference in student progress. Monitoring and observation were found to make a statistically significant negative difference in student progress. As Mississippi moves toward funding preschools in many districts, studies of this nature will be of assistance in guiding and making curriculum choices.