Million Federal Grant to Develop First Integrated Head Start Curriculum
for Urban Preschoolers
at GSE plan to develop a first-ever integrated curriculum for preschoolers
in Head Start classrooms across the country--encompassing literacy,
numeracy and both school and social readiness skills.
with a $5.8 million federal grant over five years, this project
will be the first effort U.S. educators have made to provide disadvantaged
children with an opportunity to overcome the academic challenges
that research shows can plague them for their entire academic careers.
This project, which represents the Bush administration investments
in early childhood education, is funded by multiple federal sources
through the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Penn is one of only eight universities in the country to receive
these grant funds.
Start has never before benefited from an evidence-based, integrated
curriculum," said Dr. John Fantuzzo, a psychologist and professor
of education at GSE, who is the principal investigator in this study.
"Head Start and other early childhood care programs have done
well at addressing children--s comprehensive needs and giving
them a sense of what school is about--we--re excited to
add to that success by developing scientifically tested curricula
that could help preschoolers get a leg up academically, and the
curricula could be around long after we--re done with this research
integrated curriculum will be developed, tested and refined in partnership
with researchers and practitioners. It will be built upon empirical
research in early literacy and language, early numeracy and social/emotional
adjustment. Special attention will be paid to foundational approaches
to learning and emotional development, and the differential family,
classroom, and neighborhood contexts within which child development
strength of this proposal is the integration of these areas of research
in the real preschool classroom environment, and in the families
and cultures of urban Head Start children," Dr. Fantuzzo said.
researchers will also investigate the efficacy of the curriculum
with a randomized, longitudinal study over the five years.
Fantuzzo is joined in the research by GSE faculty with particular
expertise in several core areas of the core curriculum: Dr. Douglas
Frye, chair of GSE--s Psychology in Education Division specializing
in numeracy; Dr. Vivian Gadsden, director of the National Center
on Fathers and Families and GSE professor specializing in literacy;
and Dr. Paul McDermott, GSE professor specializing in statistics,
assessment and testing. Also participating in this project is Dr.
Dennis Culhane, director of the Cartographic Modeling Laboratory
and a professor at the School of Social Work, and an expert in urban
Fantuzzo and Dr. Culhane have partnered previously on the Kids Integrated
Database System (KIDS), an integrated system that links the databases
of Philadelphia--s many city administrative, social and health
agencies. One of the few such systems in the country, KIDS allows
for efficient exchange of information about more than 250,000 of
the city--s children.
to KIDS, which is funded by the William Penn Foundation, will enable
the researchers not only to study the effect of the curriculum on
each child, but also to control the contextual factors, such as
parents-- ages and education level or neighborhood crime rates
and other stressors (drop-out rates, gang activity, school attendance
Dr. McDermott said, "No one in the country has the kind of
data that Penn--in partnership with the city of Philadelphia--has
of the GSE researchers have connections to local schools and to
preschoolers. Dr. Fantuzzo has worked for 12 years with the city
school district and in partnerships on Head Start, providing all
sorts of evaluations and assessments. He was instrumental in securing
significant funding from the William Penn Foundation for KIDS.
Almanac, Vol. 50, No. 10,
October 28, 2003