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Citation:Brown, E. G., & Scott-Little, C. (2003). Evaluations of school readiness initiatives: What are we learning? Tallahassee, FL: SERVE.

This paper reviews evaluations of programs that emphasize school readiness. The paper examines the effectiveness of school readiness initiatives by focusing on programs designed specifically to prepare for school success. Questions address the types of school readiness initiatives that have been evaluated, research methodologies used to collect data, outcomes associated with participation in readiness programs, and practices that seem to prepare children. Measures, outcome variables, statistical analyses, and effects were summarized and categorized into three major areas: 1) child development, 2) school performance, and 3) long-term outcomes. Results show that studies used a variety of methods to assess program effects on child development and well-being. Strongest data came from studies of social-emotional development, with several reporting children in readiness programs having more positive social development than those in comparison groups. Positive results were also reported for childrenÕs language/literacy, mathematical thinking, physical/health development, and for student outcomes such as better attendance or fewer referrals for special services once the children entered school. The literature search identified evaluations of school-readiness initiatives using a list of key words. Twenty evaluations from between January 1997 and April 2002 that provided child outcome data were reviewed and coded by readiness program and evaluation methods used. Studies were examined by type of research design:1 was experimental, 8 were quasi-experimental, and 11 were pre-experimental. The paper illustrates variation in the program designs, objectives, and services offered among school-readiness initiatives. There was also a range of data collection methods, making it difficult to discern which program features were associated with outcomes. Authors caution that without measures of quality, it is difficult to determine whether results are due to program design or implementation.

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