Regents of the University of Minnesota

Midwest Expansion of the Child-Parent Center Education Program, Preschool to Third Grade

The project is designed to expand and implement the Child-Parent Center P-3 Program (CPC P-3), which provides intensive and continuous educational and family-support services through the Preschool through third-grade school transition process, emphasizes basic skills in language arts and math, and enhances family involvement in children’s education. Working with partners, the project seeks to expand the CPC P-3 model across the Midwest with a high level of quality; assess the quality of implementation; evaluate the impact on student readiness, early achievement, social competence and need for remedial education; assess subgroup effects by child and program characteristics; and determine levels of cost effectiveness. 

Description of Project

The University of Minnesota is partnering with nine local education and nonprofit agencies in Illinois and Minnesota to implement the Midwest Child-Parent Center (MCPC) Education Program. MCPC is a school reform model that provides intensive and continuous educational and family-support services through the entire school transition process, emphasizes basic skills in language arts and math, and enhances family involvement in childrens' education. The purpose of the validation project is to assess generalizability for a broader array of social contexts. A target group of 2,500 preschool children in 26 schools in four school districts will be compared with children in comparison schools receiving usual services and followed to the end of the program in third grade. Key goals of the project are to (1) implement the MCPC model with a high level of quality; (2) assess the quality of implementation; (3) evaluate the impact of the program on school readiness, early achievement, social competence, and need for remedial education; (4) assess subgroup effects by child and program characteristics; and (5) determine levels of cost-effectiveness. The project aims to reach its goals through implementing six key strategies in its program implementation:
1. High-quality preschool for up to two years in small classes taught by certified teachers
2. Curricula and instructional practices that emphasize language, literacy, and math skills within a structured activity-based approach
3. Comprehensive family services led by the Parent Resource Teachers and School-Community Representatives that include parental involvement and resource mobilization
4. A leadership team run by the head teacher in collaboration with the principal
5. Kindergarten and school-age continuity through co-located or close-by centers, small classes with teacher aides, and instructional coordination by school coordinators
6. Ongoing professional development by school coordinators to support teachers and principals in implementing and aligning evidence-based curricula and instructional practices
The key objectives are that (1) the CPC program will be implemented with a high degree of fidelity and adherence to program principles established by previous research, (2) the preschool component of the program will demonstrate impacts on school readiness, (3) P-3 participation will substantially improve second and third grade achievement and social competence and reduce the need for remedial education, (4) the program will show a level of initial cost savings and effectiveness that will suggest long-term positive economic benefits, and (5) the partners will secure additional resources and develop a foundation for sustainability. The achievement of the objectives is expected to enhance children’s school readiness,transition to school, early reading and math achievement, and parent involvement, thus providing a strong foundation for enduring effects on later achievement and high school graduation.
 

Description of Evaluation

SRI International will conduct an independent summative and formative evaluation of the CPC expansion. A quasi-experimental longitudinal design will be implemented with over 1,800 children and families in 48 schools, using propensity score matching to create comparable intervention and comparison schools. Data collection will include measures of family demographic characteristics, parent and student outcomes, and fidelity of implementation. 
 
The project will conduct a cost effectiveness study that will involve collecting and comparing estimates of program costs to school outcomes. Findings on outcomes and implementation and feedback on progress toward intended outcomes will be shared through annual reports and regular project briefings.