The ScienceStart! PreK Program is a standards-based curriculum. It was developed in accord with
- Best practices in early childhood education
- Contemporary theories of child development and learning
- Standards developed by national professional organizations
Research funded by grants awarded to the University of Rochester by the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Education shows that children in ScienceStart! classrooms make statistically significant gains on a variety of measures of language and literacy development, develop a rich knowledge-base, and develop discourse skills and science process skills that are important for school success.
The development of ScienceStart! has been supported by more than $5 million in grants to the University of Rochester from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, the A. L. Mailman Family Foundation, and Eastman Kodak.
Extensive evaluations of children’s learning were carried out for the three projects funded by the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Education. Participating preschoolers from low- and middle-income families showed statistically significant gains on a variety of measures of language and literacy development. In addition they developed a rich knowledge base about science, acquired specialized science vocabulary to express this knowledge, and developed a variety of discourse skills and process skills (explaining, describing, questioning, predicting) that support academic success.
Outcomes for children participating in an Early Reading First grant that used ScienceStart! are available in a technical report provided by the University of Rochester. Click link to view the report. Technical Report
Measures of Language and Literacy
Research conducted as part of the US Department of Education’s Early Childhood Educators’ Professional Development and Early Reading First programs found that children in ScienceStart! classrooms showed statistically significant gains on the following measures:
Dunn, Lloyd M. & Dunn, Leota M. (1997). Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-III. Bloomington, MN: Pearson Assessments. The PPVT-III assesses a child’s listening comprehension of standard English. Norm-referenced and individually administered, the PPVT-III is a well-established predictor of school success. A standard score of 85 or above indicates age-appropriate vocabulary.
National Center for Learning Disabilities. (2001). Get Ready to Read! Bloomington, MN: Pearson Assessments. The GRTR! assesses children’s mastery of important pre-reading skills: print knowledge, emergent writing, and linguistic awareness. A score of 16 or above indicates a child is well prepared to learn to read.
Early Childhood Research Institute on Measuring Growth and Development. (1998). Individual Growth and Development Indicators. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota.
Reid, K., Hresko, W.P. & Hammill, D. (2001). Test of Early Reading Ability-3. Bloomington, MN: Pearson Assessments. The TERA-3 assesses 3 aspects reading: knowledge of the alphabet and the ways it can be used; conventions of print; and the ability to get meaning from print.
University of Virginia. (2002). Phonological Awareness Screening Inventory. Charlottesville, VA: The Rector and the Board of Visitors of the University of Virginia. PALS-PreK assesses the skills that predict learning to read.
Early childhood research shows:
- personal experience is the foundation for language development.
- language development is the foundation for literacy development.
- provides a rich, hands-on setting for learning.
- addresses the achievement gap that results from different family environments.
- develops a rich, age-appropriate knowledge base reinforcing language and literacy skills.
Research by investigators not associated with our team, supported by funding from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, shows that the program can be successfully used with children with developmental disabilities. The preschool children with disabilities in this program for one academic year showed statistically significant gains across a variety of measures of academic and social competence. General Education Curriculum for Preschoolers with Disabilities: Children’s School Success
Outcomes for children participating in an Early Reading First grant that used ScienceStart! are available in a technical report provided by the University of Rochester. Read more about the Early Reading First Grant results.
The ScienceStart! PreK – K program reflects state-of-the-art early childhood practice. As a standards-based curriculum, it meets or exceeds standards outlined by the following national professional organizations:
- National Science Teachers Association
- National Council for the Teaching of Mathematics
- National Council for Teachers of English
- International Reading Association
- National Association for the Education of Young Children
- American Association for the Advancement of Science
Although Kindergarten through 2nd grade is the lowest age range mentioned for science benchmarks/standards by the AAAS and NSTA, ScienceStart! activities are in accord with these benchmarks/standards and directly address those that are developmentally appropriate for preschoolers.