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Capellaville Early Childhood Family Education: School Readiness Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Jul 30th, 2020

Assessment of school readiness is controversial topic especially under the conditions of increased accountability pressure for educational programs and the vague definition of the issue: There is no clear explanation what is meant by the school readiness assessment and how exactly it must be performed (Blair & Raver, 2015). The only thing that is clear is that school readiness, in its broadest sense, encompasses not only children but also their families, educators, and environments affecting their development and learning outcomes (Chen, Claessens, & Msall, 2014).

The program, for which the evaluation project to be developed, is called Capellaville Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) and its primary goal is to provide a parent and early childhood education guidelines for families who have children aged birth to five. It intends to enhance and support the competence of parents in providing the best environment for the healthy growth of their children. ECFE services include: classes; home visits; parent education classes for new parents at two area hospitals; teen parent groups; supervised visitation services for Capp County Child Protection; outreach efforts to English Language Learners (ELL), WIC clients; Parenting Education seminars and speaker events; and, parent resource lending libraries.

The aspect that will be specifically evaluated is the ability of the program to ensure smooth transition between home and school that would not cause stress to children. The theoretical approach that is planned to be used is mixed: Formative evaluation will take place during the project’s implementation in order to improve its design and understand why certain aspects do not work as they were expected to. Semi-structured interviews with children, teachers, and parents as well as psychological tests will be applied. At the end of an instructional unit, summative evaluation will take place in the form of a comparative analysis of children’s readiness at all stages of project implementation. Descriptive qualitative methodology is the most suitable for this purpose.

It should be also born in mind that even if the program proves to be effective in all aspects, it may still face a number of political problems. Of the major is the federal political landscape and nationally accepted standards. Any changes in this respect would bring about inevitable introduction of changes to the program. Furthermore, local political situation may also affect the program’s funding and spread in the community.

Literature Review

The choice of the two evaluation methods stems from a preliminary review of literature on the topic of school readiness assessment. First and foremost, it is important to understand that there is no universal approach that would allow serving a multitude of purposes. Even within the narrow scope, it is more demonstrative to combine several theories (Schmitt, McClelland, Tominey, & Acock, 2015).

Generally, two major assessments are singled out: naturalistic and standardized. The former intends to improve the process whereas the latter in concentrated on the results. A considerable advantage of the naturalistic approach is that it does not interfere with the family education routine, and the child has better chances to demonstrate his/her skills. However, the standardized summative assessment of outcomes is also necessary for progress tracking and standards improvement (Csapó, Molnár, & Nagy, 2014).

Since the aspect of the evaluation project is psychological transition to school, it will be more focused on the naturalistic assessment: Not only children but also their educators will be interviewed in a semi-structured way to find out whether children are psychologically ready for school. Yet, some tests to track the progress will also be used.

Such an approach relies on the two widespread logic models used for evaluation (Graziano, Slavec, Hart, Garcia, & Pelham, 2014):

Logic Model 1.
Diagram 1. Logic Model 1.
Logic Model 2.
Diagram 2. Logic Model 2.

These models are useful as they provide a clear-cut basis for evaluation design and take into consideration not only intrinsic but also extrinsic features and stakeholders.

The problem is that most of the currently applied evaluation models were developed in the 1970s, which implies that none of them are completely relevant today. Thus, the most challenging task for the evaluator is to single out features that could still be applied nowadays and combine them in a new framework (Posavac, 2015).

Stufflebeam’s (CIPP Evaluation Model, which stands for context, input, process, and product) encompasses four directions of evaluation, making it actually a need assessment for planning decisions. Although it cannot be used for a deeper process evaluation, some of its methods related to environmental factors of the program success are still applicable (Mertens, 2014).

Rossi’s Five-Domain Evaluation Model is more elaborate and requires tailoring each evaluation to fit local needs, resources, and type of program. It allows constructing an agreed evaluation plan with stakeholders and avoiding the so-called theory failure (Fine, 2014).

Kirkpatrick’s Training Evaluation Model is aimed to motivate training directors to realize the importance of evaluation and to increase their involvement. Unlike the first model, it makes it possible to conduct evaluations not only at the early or preliminary steps but also during the process of implementation (Mertens, 2014).

However, none of the models take into account moral, multicultural or ethical components, which are highly important for school readiness. Thus, the task of evaluator will also be to consider how racial and social issues may impact psychological preparation for school. Furthermore, he/she will have to solve an ethical dilemma of how the program prepares children for accepting the fact that they are not ready for school without adverse consequences.

References

Blair, C., & Raver, C. C. (2015). School readiness and self-regulation: A developmental psychobiological approach. Annual Review of Psychology, 66, 711-731.

Chen, J. H., Claessens, A., & Msall, M. E. (2014). Prematurity and school readiness in a nationally representative sample of Australian children: does typically occurring preschool moderate the relationship? Early Human Development, 90(2), 73-79.

Csapó, B., Molnár, G., & Nagy, J. (2014). Computer-based assessment of school readiness and early reasoning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 106(3), 639-650.

Fine, M. J. (2014). The second handbook on parent education: Contemporary perspectives. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier.

Graziano, P. A., Slavec, J., Hart, K., Garcia, A., & Pelham Jr, W. E. (2014). Improving school readiness in preschoolers with behavior problems: Results from a summer treatment program. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 36(4), 555-569.

Mertens, D. M. (2014). Research and evaluation in education and psychology: Integrating diversity with quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage publications.

Posavac, E. (2015). Program evaluation: Methods and case studies. London, UK: Routledge.

Schmitt, S. A., McClelland, M. M., Tominey, S. L., & Acock, A. C. (2015). Strengthening school readiness for Head Start children: Evaluation of a self-regulation intervention. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 30, 20-31.

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