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A Meta-analysis of academic and social/emotional benefits associated with preschool participation

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Title:
A Meta-analysis of academic and social/emotional benefits associated with preschool participation
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Schimmel, Layla
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Denver, CO
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University of Colorado Denver
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English

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Degree:
Doctorate ( Doctor of psychology)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
School of Education and Human Development, CU Denver
Degree Disciplines:
School psychology
Committee Chair:
Crepeau-Hobson, Franci
Committee Members:
Harris, Bryn
Geissler, Lisa

Notes

Abstract:
Participation in a high-quality preschool program has been credited as one of the most important first steps in long-term academic achievement and social/emotional wellness. A great deal of research regarding preschool efficacy is outdated and evaluates inconsistent early learning standards and curriculum. Via a meta-analytic review, this study examined the magnitude of academic and social/emotional benefits associated with preschool participation in more current contexts. The total sample from three recent studies included 478 participants (246 in intervention groups and 232 in control groups). Effect Size (ES) magnitude was determined using Cohen’s suggested parameters; 0.2 = small ES; 0.5 = moderate ES; 0.8 = large ES. Nine variables addressing academic and social/emotional success were examined in this study. Results suggest preschool fadeout or loss of skills over time is a significant concern. While social/emotional benefits may be more sustainable over time, more current research encompassing new state-level early learning standards is crucial.
General Note:
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University of Colorado Denver
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Auraria Library
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Copyright Layla Schimmel. Permission granted to University of Colorado Denver to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.

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A META-ANALYSIS OF ACADEMIC & SOCIAL/EMOTIONAL
BENEFITS ASSOCIATED WITH PRESCHOOL PARTICIPATION
by
LAYLA SCHIMMEL
B.A., University of Northern Colorado, 2007 M.A., Adams State University, 2011
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Psychology School Psychology Program
2018


ii
This thesis for the Doctor of Psychology degree by Layla Leilani Schimmel has been approved for the School Psychology Program by
Franci Crepeau-Hobson, Chair Bryn Harris Lisa Geissler
Date: May 12, 2018


Schimmel, Layla (PsyD, School Psychology Program)
A Meta-Analysis of Academic & Social/Emotional Benefits Associated with Preschool Participation
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Franci Crepeau-Hobson
ABSTRACT
Participation in a high-quality preschool program has been credited as one of the most important first steps in long-term academic achievement and social/emotional wellness. A great deal of research regarding preschool efficacy is outdated and evaluates inconsistent early learning standards and curriculum. Via a meta-analytic review, this study examined the magnitude of academic and social/emotional benefits associated with preschool participation in more current contexts. The total sample from three recent studies included 478 participants (246 in intervention groups and 232 in control groups). Effect Size (ES) magnitude was determined using Cohen’s suggested parameters; 0.2 = small ES; 0.5 = moderate ES; 0.8 = large ES. Nine variables addressing academic and social/emotional success were examined in this study. Results suggest preschool fadeout or loss of skills over time is a significant concern. While social/emotional benefits may be more sustainable over time, more current research encompassing new state-level early learning standards is crucial.
The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication.
Approved: Franci Crepeau-Hobson


IV
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER
I: INTRODUCTION.............................................................1
Importance of Preschool Participation....................................1
Equity in Access to High Quality Preschool Programs......................2
Meta-Analysis as a method of synthesizing research.......................3
II: REVIEW 01 LITERATURE.....................................................5
Preschool Participation and Academic Benefits............................5
Preschool Participation and Social/Emotional Benefits....................6
Early Intervention and Associated Financial Gains........................8
Recent Changes and Mandates in Early Childhood Education................10
III: A META-ANALYSIS OF ACADEMIC AND SOCIAL/EMOTIONAL BENEFITS OF
PRESCHOOL PARTICIPATION.................................................14
Hypothesis and Objective................................................14
Experimental Design.....................................................14
Materials and Methods...................................................15
Summary of Included Studies.............................................16
IV: RESULTS.................................................................19
Descriptive Variables...................................................19
Outcome Variables.......................................................20
V: DISCUSSION..............................................................27
Limitations.............................................................28
Implications for Practice...............................................30
Conclusion and Future Directions
30


V
REFERENCES
32


VI
LIST OF TABLES
TABLE
1: Characteristics of Studies Included in the Meta-Analysis............................18
2: Effect Size Calculations; Study One.................................................20
3: Effect Size Calculations; Study Three...............................................21
4: Effect Size Calculations; Study Two.................................................22


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CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION
Importance of Preschool Participation
In 2016, only 14% of 3-year-olds and 31% of 4-year-olds in Colorado were enrolled in a public preschool program (Troe, 2016). Funding represents a significant barrier to preschool access for children in Colorado. While programs such as Head Start and the Colorado Preschool Program work to mitigate costs for families with identified risk factors including low income, funding remains limited and many children are denied access to affordable early education. In
2012, over 12,000 four-year-old children with qualifying factors did not receive preschool education through Head Start or the Colorado Preschool Program (Torres, 2013).
Equitable access to preschool, and more specifically, access to high-quality preschool is a significant concern for many government officials and educational professionals In
2013, roughly 59% of four-year-olds in the United States and 66% of four-year-olds in Colorado were not enrolled in publicly funded preschool programs. Access to high-quality preschool programs is especially limited for children of color and children from families with low income. African American children and children from low-income households are most likely to attend low-quality preschool programs (United States Department of Education, 2015). Research suggests that inequity in access to high-quality preschool programming contributes significantly to gaps in academic achievement present during kindergarten. According to the United States Department of Education (2015), kindergarten students in households with incomes below the federal poverty line attained the lowest scores on assessments of reading and math skills, while students in homes with incomes double or higher than the federal poverty line represent the highest scores on the same assessments.


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Equity in Access to High Quality Preschool Programs
Significant disparities in school readiness exist between children from households with income below the federal poverty line and their more affluent peers. Research suggests children living in poverty may exhibit structural differences in the brain, including lower regional gray matter volumes (Hair, Hanson, Wolfe, & Poliak, 2015). The longer children live in poverty, the more significant structural differences appear to exist. Identified differences in brain structure may account for lags in skills development associated with key factors of school readiness. Participation in a high-quality preschool program may help to mitigate some effects of poverty on academic achievement and the development of social/emotional skills (Johnson, Riis, & Noble, 2016).
A great deal of research has examined the short-term and long-term effects of preschool attendance on academic achievement and social-emotional functioning of children from low-income households. One study followed a group of students who participated in The Opportunity Project (TOP) early learning program (Bakken, Brown, & Downing, 2017). TOP students were compared to a control group of students with similar socioeconomic status. Results of this study indicated that by fourth grade, TOP students performed significantly better on academic assessments of math and reading skills, showed higher attendance rates, incurred fewer discipline referrals, were identified for special education services earlier (when applicable), and moved to mainstream classrooms more quickly than their peers in the control group. High-quality early education and preschool programs may be a key factor in mitigating the negative effects of poverty on academic achievement in early elementary school, a time when critical foundational skills are acquired (Morrissey, et. al., 2014).
The argument that federally funded preschool programs may be “the silver bullet” in education reform is not uncommon (e.g., Magnuson & Duncan, 2016; O’Day & Smith, 2016).


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While preschool attendance is correlated with positive academic and social-emotional outcomes in early years, long-term benefits remain less clear. Substantial research suggests academic benefits associated with preschool attendance typically even out over time (Haskins, 2016), but social-emotional benefits have been shown to last into adulthood. Benefits include: increased earnings, increased years of education completed, high school graduation, reduced teen pregnancy, and lower crime rates (Trawick-Smith, 2014). Sustained academic and social-emotional benefits for children have been correlated to attending high quality preschool and early elementary programs (Yoshikaw, Wieland, & Brooks-Gunn, 2016). In the professional literature, the term high-quality preschool is commonly associated with specific features including: well-trained educators in every classroom who participate in ongoing training and support, clearly defined curriculum that is research-based and aligns with early elementary school standards, curriculum delivery with fidelity, a classroom environment that is supportive of students and teachers, continued progress monitoring, and quality improvement (Karoly, Auger, Kase, McDaniel, & Rademacher, 2016).
The potential benefits associated with attending a high-quality preschool program may span beyond the students. In a Canadian study, a group of families with low socioeconomic status was followed from the preschool years until the children reached seven years of age. This study found benefits including improved receptive language and global development in children, as well as higher self-esteem, greater use of community resources, lower levels of parental stress, and lowered risk of child maltreatment in the parent population (Benzies, et. al., 2012). These findings strongly suggest that preschool attendance may be beneficial for the entire family. Meta-Analysis as a Method of Synthesizing the Research
Walker, Hernandez, and Kattan (2008) outline the benefits of meta-analysis as a means of clinically synthesizing research, including increasing sample size to increase statistical power,


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wide availability of data with technologically available research, and specialized software for meta-analysis computations. They caution that meta-analysis must be performed judiciously and meet many key requirements to ensure validity. Cooper (2015) suggests the following seven steps for research synthesis: 1) formulating the problem; 2) searching the literature; 3) gathering information from studies; 4) evaluating the quality of studies; 5) analyzing and integrating the outcome of studies; 6) interpreting the evidence; 7) presenting the results. These seven steps are divided into four independent stages of research: 1) literature search; 2) extracting information from research; 3) summarizing and integrating evidence; 4) interpreting cumulative findings. Cooper stressed the importance of four independent stages, each with separate decision-making processes, for a strong methodology (2015).
Via a meta-analytic review, this study aims to examine the magnitude of academic and social/emotional benefits associated with preschool participation in more current contexts.


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CHAPTER II
REVIEW OF LITERATURE Preschool Participation and Academic Benefits
Preschool participation has been consistently correlated with positive academic achievement in the early elementary school years. Studies suggest preschool participation has statistically significant positive impacts on school-readiness, as well as measurable skills in specific academic areas including vocabulary, mathematics, and print awareness (Hustedt, Jung, Barnett, & Williams, 2015). The authors of many studies advocate for policy shifts to make high-quality preschool programming more accessible to children from low-income families as participation in a high-quality preschool program has shown significant advancements in closing the school readiness gap for this population specifically (Soria, 2016).
Language, vocabulary, and mathematics skills are touted as the main areas of academic gain in high-quality preschool programs. One study found positive effects on children’s math skills after participating in a preschool mathematics intervention (Watts, Clements, Sarama, Wolfe, Spitler, & Bailey, 2017). However, gains in this study were primarily identified in “state” mathematics skills rather than “trait” mathematics skills. The authors found improvement in current mathematics knowledge and potential benefits in transfer of knowledge skills as students enter kindergarten, but did not find statistically significant benefit in trait mathematics, which influences stable differences in achievement over time. Results of this study suggest a more important skill set learned in preschool is knowledge transition, rather than mastery of specific academic skills (Watts et al., 2017).
One study examined the Missouri Preschool Program in rural, southwest Missouri to identify academic benefits over time as they correlate to participation in the program (Hall,
2015). Results of this study found students who participated in the Missouri Preschool Program


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did not show statistically significant score differences in areas of academic achievement from their peers who did not attend the preschool program. However, the study did find a great deal of qualitative data that suggested perceptions of higher school-readiness, improved fine motor skills, increased parent involvement, and advanced social development in students who attended the Missouri Preschool Program (Hall, 2015).
Research suggests that academic achievement skills acquired during preschool tend to fade or even out over the early elementary years with variation of fadeout severity based upon several factors including preschool quality, kindergarten and early elementary school quality, parent involvement, teacher involvement, socioeconomic status, etc. (Magnuson & Duncan, 2016). Overall education attainment and earnings in adulthood, however, appear to represent long-term benefits associated with preschool participation (Magnuson & Duncan, 2016). Several studies (e.g., Johnson, 2010; Shah et al., 2017) suggest high quality kindergarten and first grade classrooms may help to mitigate the effects of preschool fadeout. Research indicates that high quality instruction and transition supports could play an important role in helping sustain the benefits of preschool participation into later elementary school years and beyond (Johnson,
2010).
Preschool Participation and Social/Emotional Benefits
Similar to academic benefits, social-emotional gains have been found to be higher for children who attend two years rather than one year of a high-quality preschool program (Jenkins, et. al., 2015). Moore et al., (2015) argue that social-emotional skills facilitate school-readiness and preschools should include evidence-based social-emotional learning curricula.
High quality preschool programs are commonly defined using four key program aspects or components (Pianta, Downer, & Hamre, 2016). The first aspect involves structural elements such as length of the school day and teacher credentials. The second aspect examines general


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classroom features, including classroom environment, activities involving children, teachers, and parents, etc. The third aspect involves dimensions of student-teacher interaction by asking, how are teachers and students interacting? and how is student-teacher interaction facilitated day to day? The final aspect involves quality ratings and improvement scales. The second and third aspects highlight the importance of social-emotional curriculum as a measure of program quality. Classrooms with strong social-emotional curricula may aid in positive student-teacher relationships and classroom environment (Poulou, 2016).
In one study, researchers examined Head Start programs with and without the use of the Head Start REDI (Research-Based, Developmentally Informed) model (Nix et. al., 2016). The REDI model included language-emergent literacy and a research-based social-emotional skills curriculum. Students were followed for five years and results indicated that students who participated in the REDI program followed “optimal developmental trajectories” defined by various factors, including higher social competence; lower incidence of aggressive, defiant, and oppositional behavior; lower incidence of attention problems; and lower incidence of peer rejection than their peers who did not participate in the REDI program (Nix et al., 2016). This study supports the argument that high quality preschool programming represents best practice and may be associated with both short-term and long-term benefits for students.
While preschool participation appears to be correlated with positive outcomes in social-emotional learning and emotion regulation skills for most children, it may present distinct benefit to children with challenging behaviors. One study found parent training to be an effective tool to mitigate behavior concerns; a preschool summer program with a social-emotional learning component rendered additional benefits (Graziano & Hart, 2016). Six-month follow-up data showed that children who participated in the summer preschool program showed greater growth in emotion knowledge and regulation, as well as academic achievement and executive function


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when compared to peers who did not participate in the program, but whose parents also received parent education and training.
As noted, substantial research supports the inclusion of social-emotional learning in high quality preschool programs (e.g., Bierman & Mojdeh, 2015, Nix, Bierman, Domitrovich, & Gill, 2013; Bridgeland, Bruce, & Hariharan, 2013). However, many parents and educators remain in support of a “traditional academic” preschool focus. Buis (2014) examined educator perceptions of the “traditional academic” verses the “whole child” approach to preschool curriculum. Results revealed a moderately statistically significant correlation between the perceived importance of social-emotional competence and positive outcomes in later years. While most educators agreed that social-emotional learning should play a role in preschool curriculum, strong support for preliteracy and pre-numeracy skills remained a key area of concern as well (Buis, 2014). High quality preschool programs are challenged with finding an adequate balance between traditional academic and whole child curricula within the limited hours of a traditional preschool day to generate maximum positive results for the students they serve.
Early Intervention and Associated Financial Gains
Although some children will always require special education services to access learning within the least restrictive environment, many other children may benefit from early intervention services and be de-classified or have their special education label removed over time. In a 2015 study, authors DuPaul, Kern, Caskie and Volpe found significant improvement in reading and math skills for students with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at risk for learning difficulty. In contrast to children who receive benefit from early intervention services during preschool and no longer show need for special education services in elementary school, the majority of children who enter special education in early elementary years are likely to remain in special education throughout the duration of their schooling (Dubno & Dolce, 2011).


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A North Carolina study found that access to early childhood programs, such as high-quality preschool, significantly reduced the number of children placed in special education in third grade (Muschkin, Ladd, & Dodge, 2015). Similarly, a Miami study examined special education placement among children with gestational cocaine exposure who participated in either a home-based or center-based early education program. Results indicate that roughly 14% of students who participated in the center-based program were identified for special education services in middle school compared with 30% of the students who participated in the home-based program (Buckrop, Roberts, & LoCasale-Crouch, 2016). Findings from these studies indicate that preschool programs can decrease the need for future special education placement.
There are also substantial financial benefits of early intervention. According to the National Education Association (NEA), the average education cost per student in the United States is $7,552 and the average cost per student receiving special education services is $16,921 (NEA, 2017). Research suggests that participation in preschool may be a viable means of decreasing the number of students who require special education support (e.g., Buckrop et al., 2016; Muschkin et al., 2015). Early intervention is also associated with higher rates of de-classification for special education services (Dubno & Dolce, 2011). In 2008, it was estimated that providing high-quality preschool with class sizes between 15 and 20 students and teachers holding at least a Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education would cost between $8,521 and $10,375 per student depending on class size (Gault & Williams, 2008). Using these estimates, each identified student who benefits from early intervention in preschool and does not subsequently require special education services in later years could save taxpayers over $9,000 annually.
Participation in high quality preschool programs is also associated with more-timely referral for special education services for children who need them: students who attend preschool


10
are more likely to be referred for special education services earlier than their same-age peers (Parsons, 2016). Early intervention has the potential to reduce the need for continued special education and other long-term services at a much lower cost.
Recent Changes and Mandates in Early Childhood Education
Early learning standards, or the expectations of content children should know and skills or tasks they should be able to perform before kindergarten, have been adopted by all U.S. states, territories, and the District of Columbia (Bruin-Parecki, 2016). Early learning standards vary state to state, though many state-funded early childhood education programs rely on the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth the Five (ELOF) and the Early Childhood Program Standards set forth by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) to develop curriculum (Bruin-Parecki, 2016). In contrast to the assorted standards found in early education programs across the United States, in primary and secondary public education, forty-two states, four territories, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) have adopted Common Core State Standards for education (CCSS; Common Core State Standards Initiative, 2018).
The debate of necessity for early childhood learning standards in the American education system spans decades. Jennings (1995), argued standards in education are crucial and provide basic clarity as to what students are expected to learn and how they are expected to learn it.
Other advocates of clear learning standards highlight the need for equity in the American education system, touting access to challenging curriculum and content for all students to level the playing field in early years (Kagan, 2012).
Potential disadvantages of learning standards include teacher preparedness and ongoing professional development (Bruin-Parecki, 2016). Experts argue that without well-trained educators implementing evidence-based curriculum with fidelity, standards will have minimal


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impact on student success (Tout, Halle, Daily, Alvertson-Junkans, & Moodie, 2013). An additional concern around implemented learning standards is the consideration of diversity in early learning and the lack of quality training in diversity found in America’s teacher education programs (Bruin-Parecki, 2016). Some argue that standardization in a system which includes children who are inherently economically disadvantaged, have limited English-speaking skills, and may have special needs adds to inequity as unrealistic uniform standards are set for all students (Brown, 2017).
The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act (2001) reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education act and put a focus on standards-based education reform. With a rise in K-12 educator accountability under NCLB, standards-based education was embraced and early learning settings such as preschool were viewed as opportunities for kindergarten preparation in many states and territories (Bruin-Parecki, 2016). In 1999, before the implementation of NCLB, only ten states had some form of early learning standards (Scott-Little, Lesko, Martella, & Milburn, 2007). In 2002, the Bush administration implemented the Good Start, Grow Smart Initiative which encouraged early childhood education stakeholders at the state level to align curriculum to the K-12 standards in the areas of pre-reading, language, and mathematics (Brown, 2017). This initiative proposed that despite significant resources, many children were not able to benefit from high-quality pre-kindergarten education due to several factors, including limited alignment between preschool programs and K-12 standards in most states, lack of standardized evaluation of preschool programs based on school readiness and preparation for success in K-12 settings, and limited information for early childhood teachers, parents, etc. on how to prepare children for academic success (Office of the White House, 2002). The Good Start, Grow Smart initiative is credited with an increase to 27 states creating early learning standards by the end of 2002 (Scott-Little et al., 2007).


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In 2002, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS /SDE) issued a joint statement. With endorsement from the Council of Chief State School Officers and the American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the statement called for guidelines for early learning standards including. Proposed guidelines emphasized that optimal results of standards-based early education can only be achieved if standards 1) emphasize significant, developmentally appropriate content and outcomes; 2) are developed and reviewed through informed, inclusive processes; 3) use implementation and assessment strategies that are ethical and appropriate for young children; and 4) are accompanied by strong supports for early childhood programs, professionals, and families (NAEYC, NAECS/SDE, 2002).
By 2006, 49 states and the District of Columbia had clear early learning standards, though standards remain varied between states and not all states have a clear emphasis on areas other than academic skills, such as social/emotional learning (Kagan, 2012). Bruin-Parecki outlines the need for more current research regarding early learning standards and their effectiveness, noting most research in this area was conducted between 2003 and 2010 while early education learning standards have continued to evolve on a state-by-state basis (2016).
Early learning standards will continue to change and research has not kept up with education reform in the United States: the most recent available research from all 50 states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia suggests that in 2010, all states had early language and literacy standards and almost all states had standards in mathematics, science, creative arts, social studies, social/emotional development, and physical health and development in some form, though these standards and how they are evaluated changes over time (Daily, Burkhauser, & Halle, 2010).


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In more recent years, states have been encouraged to innovate new standards to generate early learning success with programs such as the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge set forth by the Obama Administration in 2009. This grant competition program, funded with over a billion dollars, focused on improving early learning outcomes by encouraging states efforts to meet three main goals: 1) increase the number and percentage of low-income and disadvantaged children in each age group of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers who are enrolled in high-quality early learning programs; 2) design and implement an integrated system of high-quality early learning programs and services; and 3) ensure that any use of assessments conforms with the recommendations of the National Research Council’s reports on early childhood (Department of Education, United States, 2009).
Via a meta-analytic approach, this study aims to further examine the magnitude of academic and social/emotional benefits associated with preschool participation using the most
recent research in this area.


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CHAPTER III
A META-ANALYSIS OF ACADEMIC AND SOCIAL/EMOTIONAL BENEFITS OF
PRESCHOOL PARTICIAPTION
Hypothesis and Objective
The predominant hypothesis of this research is that participation in high-quality preschool programs is associated with quantifiable benefits in academic and social/emotional skills in early elementary school years. While extensive research to support the positive effects of preschool participation exists, most available research is dated and does not examine the impact of modem preschool participation. The objective of this study is to examine the relationship between preschool participation and academic and social/emotional benefits in recently published research.
Experimental Design
A sample of published studies was collected using six criteria for inclusion and five criteria for exclusion. Multiple cohorts and intervention variables within selected studies allowed for potential replication of results.
Calculation of Effect Size (ES) was determined as the appropriate method of statistical analysis in accordance with Sullivan and Feinn (2012) who argued that P value, which informs if an effect exists is not sufficient. Rather, the magnitude of effect, found by calculating ES is crucial when discussing implications for practice. Effect sizes for each study variable and cohort were calculated using means, standard deviations, and N values, when available. In order to account for small sample size and unequal sample and control sizes, Cohen’s d. Hedges’ g, and Glass’s A were all calculated and compared for each possible variable using parameters outlined
by Ialongo (2016).


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Materials and Methods
Literature Search. Using the four-stage and seven-step model for meta-analysis proposed by Cooper (2015), the literature search was treated as an independent process. Multiple strategies were used to ensure a non-biased and comprehensive pool of studies for review. Relevant studies were identified through online search tools including Google Scholar, Psyclnfo, PsycArticles, the Education Resourced Information Center (ERIC), and the Auraria Library online database. The following search terms and their variants were used in different combinations: preschool participation; academic learning; social/emotional learning; long-term benefits; effects of preschool participation; early literacy; emotion recognition and regulation; early math skills; elementary school; early childhood education; childhood development; protective factors; intervention; coping skills; children; students; families; early intervention; growth.
Additionally, the ancestry method was utilized to find additional studies related to preschool participation in reviews and articles reporting on empirical studies. Specifically, reference sections of articles were inspected for relevant studies that had not yet been detected via the primary research method. Relevant journals were also searched for current studies that were no more than five years old. These journals included: Journal of School Psychology, Journal of Early Childhood Research, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Early Childhood Education Journal, Journal of Research in Early Childhood Education, Social Development, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Child Development, Journal of Early Childhood and Infant Psychology, and Developmental Psychology. A total of 41 studies were initially identified through these search methods and evaluated using the following inclusion and exclusion criteria.
Inclusion Criteria. Studies eligible for inclusion in the meta-analysis: 1) were written in English for researcher accessibility; 2) appeared in published or unpublished form between


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January 1, 2013 and December 1, 2017; 3) included a control group; 4) examined academic and/or social/emotional learning factors; 5) provided sufficient information to report effect sizes (ES); 6) were quantitative studies with significant or non-significant ES; and 7) outcome data was based on measure(s) with reported reliability and validity statistics or a measurable continuous variable. Three studies met all inclusion criteria. This is considered adequate for a meta-analysis (Treadwell, Tregear, Reston & Turkelson, 2006).
Exclusion Criteria. Studies excluded from review: 1) did not show sufficient postintervention data; 2) did not include academic and/or social/emotional outcomes; 3) did not provide a control group; 4) were not published within the inclusion criteria time-frame; 5) were qualitative studies and relied solely on teacher or parent interview. The most common reason for exclusion was that studies were outdated (more than five years old), eliminating 19 studies. Within the required publication time-frame, the most common reason for exclusion was lack of a control group (eliminating 10 studies).
Statistical Analyses. Calculation of Effect Size (ES) was carried out using the online program, Effect Size Calculators, developed and maintained by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Means and standard deviations were used to calculate the standard mean difference effect sizes with 95% confidence intervals. Cohen’s (1988) suggested parameters for determining effect size magnitude were used for this study: 0.2 = small ES; 0.5 = moderate ES; 0.8 = large ES.
Summary of Included Studies
The first study selected for meta-analysis (study ID number: 1) sought to assess sustained effects of the Head Start Research-Based, Developmentally Informed (REDI) model. The authors conducted a randomized control-group study to determine the effects of the REDI


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program on developmental trajectories of participants when compared to a control group. (Nix et. al., 2016).
Study 1 examined the following areas: social competence, aggressive-oppositional behavior, learning engagement, attention problems, student-teacher closeness, and peer rejection. Variables were measured via rating scales completed by six teachers over five years. Social competence was measured using thirteen items from the Social Competence Scale. Seven items from the Authority Acceptance subscale of the Teacher Observation of Classroom Adaptation-Revised were used to measure aggressive-oppositional behavior. Learning engagement was assessed using eight questions developed for the Head Start REDI program. Attention problems were measured using eight items from the Inattentive-Impulsive subscale of the ADHD Rating Scale. Student-Teacher closeness was measured with eight items from the Student-Teacher Relationship Scale, and peer rejection was assessed using three items from the Excluded by Peers subscale of the Child Behavior Scale (Nix et. al., 2016).
The second study meeting inclusion criteria for the meta-analysis (study ID number 2) was conducted by Hall in 2016. Study 2 examined long-term academic benefits associated with participation in a rural preschool program in Missouri. Study 2 was a multi-year mixed methods study and collected quantitative data including academic skills in communication arts for preschool participants and a control group in kindergarten, first-grade, and second-grade. Qualitative data collected for this study included teacher-report measures of social development, school-readiness, and emotional development.
Results of study 2 did not find an overall statistically significant difference in academic scores as measured by Aimsweb Curriculum Based Measures in grade level cohorts. The qualitative data collected for this study revealed teacher perception of the benefits associated


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with preschool participation including school readiness, advanced social development, improved fine motor development, and increased parental involvement (Hall, 2016).
The third study selected for inclusion (study ID number 3) examined the effectiveness of a conversational emotion recognition training program available to preschool students. This study was short-term when compared with studies 1 and 2 and involved a pre-test, post-test, and follow-up for data collection. Study 3 started with a pre-test of intervention and control group of students followed by the intervention or “training” phase, which lasted six weeks. Four months elapsed between the pre-test and post-test phases of the study and an additional four months elapsed between the post-test and follow-up phases of the study (Omaghi et. al., 2014).
Results reported in study 3 indicated that students in the intervention group outperformed students in the control group on measures of Emotion Comprehension (EC) and prosocial orientation during the post-test and follow-up phases. No statistically significant differences in performance were found during the pre-test phase of this study and the study results controlled for advances in verbal ability. Measures used in study 3 include the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT), the False-Belief Location Change Task, the Prosocial Orientation Story-Completion Task (developed for this study), and the Test of Emotion Comprehension (TEC).
The intervention group did not perform significantly better than the control group on measures of false-belief understanding (Ornaghi et. al., 2014).


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CHAPTER IV RESULTS
Descriptive Variables
In order to conduct this meta-analysis, an initial 41 studies were narrowed down to 3 studies meeting inclusion criteria for the analysis. Refer to Table 1 for detailed characteristics of each study. The total sample included nine variables and 478 participants (246 in intervention groups and 232 in control groups).
Table 1
Characteristics of studies included in the meta-analysis
Study Year Intervention Group Sample Size Variable Grade Levels Assessed Method of Assessment
Social Competence Kindergarten, First, Second, Third Teacher report and observation using psychometrically sound instruments
Five-year Aggressive Behavior Kindergarten, First, Second, Third Teacher report and observation using psychometrically sound instruments
1 - Nix et. 2016 follow-ap study with 91% retention Peer Rejection Kindergarten, First, Second, Third Teacher report and observation using psychometrically sound instruments
al. Year 1: 343 Year 2: 321 Year 3: 322 Year 4: 302 Year 5: 288 Student- Teacher Closeness Kindergarten, First, Second, Third Teacher report and observation using psychometrically sound instruments
Learning Engagement Kindergarten, First, Second, Third Teacher report and observation using psychometrically sound instruments
Attention Problems Kindergarten, First, Second, Third Teacher report and observation using psychometrically sound instruments
2 - Hall 2016 207 Letter Sounds Kindergarten Aimsweb assessment of letter-number sounds


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Table 1 Continued
Reading First, Second Aimsweb assessment; CBM
3- Ornaghi et al. 2015 75 Pro-social Orientation Kindergarten Prosocial Orientation Story Completion Task and teacher observation
Total Emotional Comprehension Kindergarten Test of Emotion Comprehension (TEC) and teacher observation data
Outcome Variables
The overall range of effect sizes (Cohen’s d) fell between 0.07 and 0.29; the majority of variable effect sizes calculated in the reviewed studies were not statistically significant. Effect sizes with significance fell in the small to moderate significance range. Effect size was higher for study 3, which spanned a short period of time (i.e., pre-test/post-test) and included one specific intervention rather than a multi-year approach to data-collection including exposure to several interventions with varied fidelity in delivery.
A large effect size was found for the Prosocial Orientation variable in Study 3 in the posttest (Cohen’s d = 1.064) and follow up (Cohen’s d = .8240) phases. The authors of Study 3 define Prosocial Orientation as “an individual’s tendency to feel empathy for others and to behave pro-socially” (Ornagh, et al.., 2015). Moderate to large effect size (Cohen’s d = .7093) was found for the Total Emotional Comprehension variable in Study 3 during post-test, though effect size was slightly lower (Cohen’s d = .6971) for the Total Emotional Comprehension variable in the follow up phase. The authors of Study 3 define Emotional Comprehension as “a set of abilities enabling the child to understand the nature and causes of emotions and the fact that emotions may be regulated through specific behavioral and cognitive strategies” (Ornaghi et al., 2015). Total Emotional Comprehension appears to require a more varied and advanced set of skills than Prosocial Orientation, which may contribute to some level of fadeout when the intervention was discontinued and therefore a lower effect size during the follow up phase of the study. Effect sizes for each study are included in Tables 2-4.


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Table 2. Study 1 Effect Size Calculations
Variable Cohen’s d Hedges’ g Glass’s A Statement of Effect
Social Competence
Kindergarten .2914 .2910 .2959 Small effect size; the treatment group exhibited better social competence than the control group.
First .1025 .1024 .1010 Effect Size not significant
Second .2797 .2794 .2783 Small effect size; the treatment group exhibited better social competence than the control group.
Third .0717 .0716 .0707 Effect Size not significant
Aggressive Behavior
Kindergarten -.2975 -.2972 -.3012 Small effect size; the treatment group exhibited less aggressive behavior than the control group.
First -.0823 -.0822 -.0823 Effect Size not significant
Second -.1951 - .1949 -.1868 Effect Size not significant
Third -.0722 -.0721 - .0705 Effect Size not significant
Learning Engagement
Kindergarten .2432 .2429 .2432 Small effect size; the treatment group exhibited higher learning engagement than the control group.
First .0286 .0286 .0303 Effect Size not significant
Second .2474 .2471 .2427 Small effect size; the treatment group exhibited higher learning engagement than the control group.
Third .0492 .0491 .0480 Effect Size not significant
Attention Problems
Kindergarten -.1357 -.1356 -.1375 Effect Size not significant
First -.0735 -.0734 -.0759 Effect Size not significant
Second -.1281 -.1280 -.1265 Effect Size not significant
Third -.0974 -.0973 -.0941 Effect Size not significant
Student-Teacher Closeness
Kindergarten .1341 .1340 .1406 Effect Size not significant
First .1175 .1173 .1230 Effect Size not significant


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Table 2 Continued
Second .4412 .4078 .4406 Small to Moderate effect size; the treatment group exhibited higher levels of student-teacher closeness than the control group.
Third .1705 .1702 .1585 Effect Size not significant
Peer Reiection
Kindergarten -.1351 -.1349 -.1428 Effect Size not significant
First -.0268 -.0273 -.0268 Effect Size not significant
Second -.3419 -.3415 -.3200 Small effect size; the treatment group exhibited fewer instances of peer rejection than the control group.
Third -.0490 -.0490 -.0487 Effect Size not significant
0.2 = small ES; 0.5 = moderate ES; 0.8 = large ES.
The overall mean effect size for social-emotional skills in the studies included in the metaanalysis was 0.1728 (median ES = 0.0985), suggesting there was not a statistically significant difference between control and treatment groups (or pre-test/post-test conditions) on measures of social/emotional functioning as a whole in the studies selected for review.
Table 3. Study 3 Effect Size Calculations
Variable Cohen’s d Hedges’ g Glass’s A Statement of Effect
Pre-Test
Total Emotional Comprehension -.1638 — -.1721 Effect Size not significant
Prosocial Orientation .4343 — .4166 Small to Moderate Effect Size; the treatment group exhibited better prosocial orientation than the control group
Post-Test
Total Emotional Comprehension .7093 — .7175 Moderate to Large Effect Size; the treatment group exhibited better total Emotional Comprehension than the control group


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Table 3 Continued
Prosocial Orientation 1.064 — .9375 Large Effect Size; the treatment group exhibited better prosocial orientation than the control group
Follow-Up
Total Emotional Comprehension .6971 — .6277 Moderate Effect Size; the treatment group exhibited better total Emotional Comprehension than the control group
Prosocial Orientation .8240 — .7363 Large Effect Size; the treatment group exhibited better prosocial orientation than the control group
0.2 = small ES; 0.5 = moderate ES; 0.8 = large ES.
The overall mean effect size for academic skills was 0.0579 (median ES = 0.0527) indicating no significance in difference between control and treatment groups on measures of academic achievement as a whole.
Table 4. Study 2 Effect Size Ca culations
Cohort Cohen’s d Hedges’ K Glass’s A Statement of Effect
Academic Skills: Cohort 1
Kindergarten .2250 .2155 .2281 Small Effect Size; the treatment group performed better on curriculum based measures than the control group
First -.0903 -.0865 -.1038 Effect Size not significant
Second .7226 .6921 .6429 Moderate Effect Size; the treatment group performed better on curriculum based measures than the control group


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Table 4 Continued
Academic Skills: Cohort 2
Kindergarten -.2785 -.2704 -.2671 Small Effect Size; the treatment group performed worse on curriculum based measures than the control group
First -.2628 -.2552 -.2522 Small Effect Size; the treatment group performed worse on curriculum based measures than the control group
Second -.2374 -.2305 -.2460 Small Effect Size; the treatment group performed worse on curriculum based measures than the control group
Academic Skills: Cohort 3
Kindergarten .3874 .3769 .3468 Small Effect Size; the treatment group performed better on curriculum based measures than the control group
First .3910 .3805 .3708 Small Effect Size; the treatment group performed better on curriculum based measures than the control group
Second .5549 .5399 .4302 Small to Moderate Effect Size; the treatment group performed better on curriculum based measures than the control group
Academic Skills: Cohort 4
Kindergarten -.0241 -.0235 -.0256 Effect Size not significant


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Table 4 Continued
First -.3781 -.3679 -2.686 Small Effect Size; the treatment group performed worse on curriculum based measures than the control group
Second -.0732 -.0712 -.0962 Effect Size not significant
Academic Skills: Cohort 5
Kindergarten -.0477 -.0464 -.0437 Effect Size not significant
First -.1288 -.1253 -.1265 Effect Size not significant
Second -.1415 -.1377 -.1329 Effect Size not significant
Academic Skills: All Cohorts
Kindergarten .0416 .0414 .0405 Effect Size not significant
First -.0419 -.0417 -.0424 Effect Size not significant
Second .1227 .1220 .1172 Effect Size not significant
0.2 = small ES; 0.5 = moderate ES; 0.8 = large ES.
For the purpose of this study, long-term is defined as studies with data spanning at least three years post-preschool participation and short term is defined as studies using results from a single cohort over pre-test, intervention, and post-test conditions. Of 26 cohorts/variables measuring long-term academic skills, 11 showed significant effect sizes (42%). A moderate effect size was found in one cohort measuring academic skills in 2nd grade. All other long-term academic skills variables showed a small effect size, suggesting students who attend preschool may not exhibit significantly higher levels of academic skills during early elementary school years.
Of 16 cohorts/variables measuring long-term social/emotional skill development, 5 showed significant effect sizes (31%). Of 20 long-term and short-term cohorts/variables measuring social/emotional development, 9 showed significant effect sizes (45%). Of the 46 total cohorts/variables measured across all post-intervention conditions, 20 showed significant effect sizes (43%). Effect sizes with the highest significance level were found in variables measured


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shortly after intervention delivery. This helps to support the argument that preschool fadeout is a noteworthy concern around both academic and social/emotional skills.


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CHAPTER V DISCUSSION
The goal of this study was to examine the impact of participation in today’s high-quality preschool on school readiness, academic skills, and social/emotional functioning. Although consistent benefits associated with preschool attendance were not observed across the three studies included in the analyses, there were some important findings. The most significant outcome of this research relates to the short-term study of emotional comprehension and prosocial behavior. These findings, when compared to longer-term studies, support the previous research indicating that the positive effects of preschool may fade out over time (Magnuson, & Duncan, 2016). In practice, this may mean that mastered skills should not be abandoned at an early age. Strong social/emotional skills are vital to long-term success in the American education system and should be supported and evaluated at each stage of learning (Garcia, 2016). Rather than moving from one skill set to another, perhaps a greater focus in the preschool system should be placed on combining and building complimentary academic and social skills.
Qualitative data suggest teacher perceive significantly increased social skills development and family involvement in students who attended preschool (Hall, 2016). Building relationships with families and the community in an early education environment may contribute to substantial benefits for students with identified risk factors such as low socioeconomic status. With the consideration of research suggesting social/emotional skills developed in preschool years may be more sustainable at higher levels than academic skills (Haskins, 2016), as well as the argument that social/emotional skills facilitate school-readiness (Moore, et al., 2015), evidence-based social/emotional curriculum should remain a priority in American preschool
classrooms.


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The overall mean effect size indicated no significance in difference between control and treatment groups on measures of academic achievement as a whole. These findings parallel Hall’s study (2015), suggesting little evidence that preschool participation significantly bolsters long-term academic achievement. However, previous results of increased school-readiness and ongoing parent involvement should not be overlooked, as these factors have shown a statistically significant positive impact on long-term academic achievement (Castro, Exposito-Casas, Lopez-Martin, Lizasoain, Navarro-Asencio, & Gaviria, 2015).
While the overall mean effect size of the study did not show significance in academic benefits, a small effect size was noted in some specific areas of academic achievement. Similar to results found with a mathematics-specific intervention (Watts, Clements, Sarama, Wolfe, Spitler, & Bailey, 2017), this could mean early academic intervention supports knowledge transition skills or applying learned skills in new settings, such as elementary school, rather than generating significant academic growth. As outlined by Johnson (2010), high quality instruction and transition supports may be key in sustaining early academic benefits over time.
Limitations
Meta-analysis as a means of synthesizing research has many inherent limitations, such as limited available research, common research objectives, and potential outcome sensitivity. This study mitigated limitations by following key requirements outlined by Walker, Hernandez, and Kattan (2008), including the selection of studies with well-defined objectives and precise definitions of variables and outcomes; employing an appropriate and well-documented study identification and selection strategy; and limiting bias in the identification and selection of studies.
The main limitation in this study is lack of data within the designated research timeline of the past five years. Preschool curricula and pedagogy appear to shift with the public education


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system. The determination of what “school readiness” looks like can change with each new federal, state, and local education administration. With the shift to academic preparation, new preschool curricula have been introduced. Thus, this study sought to determine the effectiveness of preschool in recent years, as American preschool curricula appears to have changed significantly over the past decade.
Another limitation relates to the small number of studies that met inclusion criteria. This prevented the completion of a multivariate analysis to determine if the factors examined in the subgroup analyses may be confounding each other. Therefore, some caution should be used in drawing conclusions regarding the potential benefits of preschool participation. Additionally, the outcome measures used varied quite widely, making it challenging to compare outcomes on any measure beyond examining simple effect sizes.
Although they are considered acceptable as statistical measures, effect sizes are generally viewed as less reliable than other statistical approaches to analysis and therefore, this study would have benefitted from more standardized sources of outcome data. This was not possible, largely due to a general lack of recent research examining the benefits of preschool participation. Although the minimum number of studies to permit a meta-analysis is only three studies (Treadwell et al, 2006), the small number of studies included in this meta-analytic review limits the generalizability of the findings. It also limited the opportunity to examine and adjust for publication bias by means of more complex analytic methods (Macaskill, Walter & Irwig, 2001). Moreover, all the primary studies that were included into the meta-analysis had small sample sizes. Therefore, the results should be interpreted with caution. If study sample sizes are relatively small, randomization may not result in equivalence of the contrasted groups.
Finally, only published studies were included in the present meta-analysis and thus these studies do not form a random sample of all studies conducted on the subject. Because studies


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with nonsignificant findings are less likely to be published than those which achieved statistical significance (Hall & Rosenthal, 1995), there is the potential for a publication bias.
Implications for Practice
Early learning standards vary significantly state-to-state (Bruin-Parecki, 2016) and are not federally regulated like K-12 public education standards. In Colorado, early learning academic standards are available for a variety of content areas including reading, writing and communicating, mathematics, science, social studies, music dance, drama and theatre arts, comprehensive health and physical education, visual arts, and world languages, as well as defined social development and emotional development standards for ages birth to 3 and 3 to 5 (Colorado Department of Education, 2011). The Colorado Early Learning Standards were formally adopted by all Colorado school districts in December of 2011.
The most significant findings in this study suggest preschool-age children exhibit shortterm benefit from evidence-based instruction and interventions. A great deal of previous research (e.g., Bakken, et al., 2017; Graziano & Hart, 2016; Soria, 2016) suggests fadeout of skills acquired in preschool is a concern in early elementary years. While additional research regarding long-term benefits associated with participation in high-quality, standards-based preschool is needed, these results clearly support concrete, consistent and repeated exposure to early academic and social/emotional learning skills.
Conclusions and Future Directions
With the limitation of sample size and available studies conducted within the desired time-frame, further and more current research is badly needed in this area. An abundance of studies outlining the benefits and effectiveness of preschool programs in the 1990’s exists in the professional literature. However, as preschool pedagogy has changed significantly, current


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research is needed to determine if “the new preschool” continues to show positive long-term results.
Many studies suggest significant positive outcomes for preschool participants in early elementary years (e.g., Bakken et al., 2017; Graziano & Hart, 2016; Soria, 2016) though fadeout is a noted concern in late elementary school (Haskins, 2016). As early education standards continue to evolve and include content areas beyond academics, such as social/emotional learning and physical development (Daily, Burkhauser & Halle, 2010), long-term research regarding effectiveness of new early learning standards and curriculum delivery techniques is needed to ensure evidence-based practices are in place in America’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs and classrooms.
Beneficial future research may include an evaluation of both academic and social/emotional skills in later years, as well as a comprehensive comparison of kindergarten experiences, such as full-day verses half-day, post preschool. Long-term research is also needed to determine the success of any changes to early childhood education and early elementary school curriculum standards that attempt to address preschool fadeout and generate long-term academic and social/emotional success into adolescence and adulthood.
Available research lacks in-depth reviews of diverse curriculum content and culturally responsive teaching practices in preschool and other early learning settings. Additional questions may include whether evidence-based curriculum and interventions are adequately available to children and families with low socioeconomic status and/or culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, children with developmental disabilities, and those who face other challenges such as homelessness or lack of adequate nutrition. Overall, a broad range of up to date research from a variety of sources is lacking to answer the question: Is America’s public preschool effectively preparing children for their K-12 classrooms on both academic and social/emotional levels.


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* Studies included in meta-analysis


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! ! A META ANALYSIS OF ACADEMIC & SOCIAL/EMOTIONAL BENEFITS ASSOCIATED WITH PRESCHOOL PARTICIPATION by LAYLA SCHIMMEL B.A., University of Northern Co lorado, 2007 M.A., Adams State University, 2011 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Psychology School Psychology Program 2018

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"" ! ! This thesis for the Doctor of Psychology degree by Layla Leilani Schimmel has been approved for the School Psychology Program by Franci Crepeau Hobson, Chair Bryn Harris Lisa Geis s ler Date: May 12 , 2018

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""" ! ! Schimmel, Layla (PsyD, School Psychology Program) A Met a Analysis of Academic & Social/ Emotional Benefits Associated with Preschool Participation Thesis directed by Associate Professor Franci Crepeau Hobson ABSTRACT Participation in a high quality preschool program has been credited as one of the most important first steps in long term academic achievement and social/emotional wellness. A great deal of research regarding presch ool efficacy is outdated and evaluates inconsistent early learning standards and curriculum. Via a meta analytic review, this study examine d the magnitude of academic and social/emotional benefits associated with preschool participation in more current con texts. The total sample from three recent studies included 478 participants (246 in intervention groups and 232 in control groups). Effect Size (ES) magnitude was determined using Cohen ' s suggested parameters; 0.2 = small ES; 0.5 = moderate ES; 0.8 = large ES. Nine variables addressing academic and social/emotional success were examined in this study. Results suggest preschool fadeout or loss of skills over time is a significant concern. While social/emotional benefits may be more sustainable over time, mor e current research encompassing new state level early learning standards is crucial . The form and content of this ab stract are approved. I recomme nd its publication. Approved: Franci Crepeau Hobson

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"# ! ! T ABLE OF CONTENTS C HAPTER I : INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 1 Importance of Preschool Participation ................................ ................................ ................. 1 Equity in Access to High Quality Preschool Programs ................................ ....................... 2 Meta Analysis as a method of synthesizing research ................................ .......................... 3 II : REVIEW OF LITERATURE ................................ ................................ .............................. 5 Preschool Participation and Academic Benefits ................................ ................................ .. 5 Preschool Participation and Social/Emotional Benefits ................................ ...................... 6 Early Intervention and Associated Financial Gains ................................ ............................. 8 Recent Changes and Mandates in Early Childhood Education ................................ ......... 10 III : A META ANALYSIS O F ACADEMIC AND SOCIAL/EMOTIONAL BENEFITS OF PRESCHOOL PARTICIPATION ................................ ................................ ..................... 14 Hypothesis and Objective ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 14 Experimental Design ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 14 Materials and Methods ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 15 Summary of Included Studies ................................ ................................ ............................ 16 IV: RESULTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .......................... 19 Descriptive Variables ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 19 Outcome Variables ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 20 V: DISCUSSION ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 27 Limitations ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 28 Implications for Practice ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 30 Conclusion and Future Directions ................................ ................................ ..................... 30

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# ! ! ! REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ .............................. 32

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#" ! ! LIST OF TABLES TABLE 1: Characteristics of Studies Included in the Meta Analysis ................................ ......................... 18 2: Effect Size Calculations; Study One ................................ ................................ .......................... 20 3: Effect Size Calculations; Study Three ................................ ................................ ....................... 21 4 : Effect Size Calculations; Study Two ................................ ................................ ......................... 22

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$ ! ! ! CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION Importance of Preschool Participation In 2016, only 14 % of 3 year olds and 31 % of 4 year olds in Colorado were enrolled in a public preschool program ( Troe, 2016) . Funding represents a significant barrier to preschool access for children in Colorado . While programs such as Head Start and the Colorado Preschool Program work to mitigate c osts for famili es with identified risk factors including low income, funding remains limited and many children are denied access to affordable early education . In 2012, over 12,000 four year old children with qualifying factors did not receive preschool ed ucation through Head Start or the Colorado Preschool Program ( Torres, 2013) . Equitable access to preschool , and more specifically, access to high quality preschool is a significant concern for many government officials and educational professionals In 20 13, roughly 59% of four year olds in the United States and 66% of four year olds in Colorado were not enrolled in publicly funded preschool programs . Access to high quality preschool programs is especially limited for children of color and children from fa milies with low income . African American children and children from low income households are most likely to attend low quality preschool programs ( United States Department of Education, 2015) . Research suggests that inequity in access to high quality pres chool programming contributes significantly to gaps in a cademic achievement present during k indergarten . According to the United States Department of Education (2015) , k indergarten students in households with incomes below the federal poverty line attained the lowest scores o n assessments of reading and math skills , while students in homes with incomes double or higher than the federal poverty line represent the highest scores on the same assessments .

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% ! ! ! Equity in Access to High Quality Preschool Programs Significant disparities in school readiness exist between children from households with income below the federal poverty line and their more affluent peers . Research suggests children living in poverty may exhibit structural differences in the brain, inclu ding lower regional gray matter volumes ( Hair, Hanson, Wolfe, & Pollak, 2015) . The longer children live in poverty, the more significant structural differences appear to exist . Identified differences in brain structure may account for lags in skill s develo pment associated with key factors of school readiness . Participation in a high quality preschool program may help to mitigate some effects of poverty on academic achievement and the development of social/emotional skills (Johnson, Riis, & Noble, 2016). A great deal of research has examined the short term and long term effects of preschool attendance on academic achievement and social emotional functioning of children from low income households . One study followed a group of students who participated in The Opportunity Project (TOP) early learning program ( Bakken, Brown, & Downing, 2017) . TOP students were compared to a control group of students with similar socioeconomic status . Results of this study indicated that by fourth grade, TOP students performed si gnificantly better on academic assessments of math and reading skills, showed higher attendance rates, incurred fewer discipline referrals, were identified for special education services earlier (when applicable), and moved to mainstream classrooms more qu ickly than their peers in the control group . High quality early education and preschool programs may be a key factor in mitigating the negative effects of poverty on academic achievement in early elementary school, a time when critical foundational skills are acquired (Morrissey, et . al., 2014) . The argument that federally funded preschool programs may be "the silver bullet" in education reform is not uncommon ( e.g., Magnuson & Duncan, 2016 ; O'Day & Smith, 2016) .

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& ! ! ! While preschool attendance is correlated w ith positive academic and social emotional outcomes in early years, long term benefits remain less clear . Substantial research suggests academic benefits associated with preschool attendance typically even out over time ( Haskins, 2016) , but social emotiona l benefits have been shown to last into adulthood . Benefits include: increased earnings, increased years of education comple ted, high school graduation, reduced teen pregnancy , and lower crime rates (Trawick Smith, 2014) . Sustained academic and social emot ional benefits for children have been correlated to attending high quality preschool and early elementary programs ( Yoshikaw, Wieland, & Brooks Gunn, 2016) . In the professional literature , t he term high quality pr eschool is commonly associated with specifi c features including: well trained educators in every classroom who participate in ongoing training and support, clearly defined curriculum that is research based and aligns with early elementary school standards , curriculum delivery with fidelity, a class room environment that is supportive of students and teachers, continued progress monitoring , and quality improvement (Karoly, Auger, Kase, McDaniel, & Rademacher, 2016) . The potential benefits a ssociated with attending a high quality preschool program ma y span beyond the students . In a Canadian study, a group of families with low socioeconomic status was followed from the preschool years until the children reached seven years of age . This study found benefits including improved receptive language and glob al development in children , as well as higher self esteem, greater use of community resources, lower levels of parental stress, and lowered risk of child maltreatment in the parent population ( Benzies, et . al., 2012) . These findings strong ly suggest that p reschool attendance may be beneficial for the entire family . Meta Analysis as a Method of Synthesizing the Research Walker, Hernandez , and K attan (2008) outline the benefits of meta analysis as a means of clinically synthesizing research , including inc reasing sample size to increase statistical power,

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' ! ! ! wide availability of data with technologically available research , and specialized software for meta analysis computations . They caution that meta analysis must be performed judiciously and meet many key r equirements to ensure validity . Cooper (2015) suggests the following seven steps for research synthesis: 1) formulating the problem; 2) searching the literature; 3) gathering information from studies; 4) evaluating the quality of studies; 5) analyzing and integrating the outcome of studies; 6) interpreting the evidence; 7) presenting the results . These seven steps are divided into four independent stages of research: 1) literature search; 2) extracting information from research; 3) summarizing and integrati ng evidence; 4) interpreting cumulative findings . Cooper stressed the import ance of four independent stages, each with separate decision making processes , for a strong methodology (2015) . Via a meta analytic review, this study aims to examine the magnitu de of academic and social/emotional benefits associated with preschool participation in more current contexts .

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( ! ! ! CHAPTER II REVIEW OF LITERATURE Preschool Participation and Academic Benefits Preschool participation has been consistent ly correlated with positive academic achievement in the early elementary school years . Studies suggest preschool participation has statistically significant positive impacts on school readiness , as well as measurable skills in specific academic areas inclu ding vocabulary, mathematics, and print awareness ( Hustedt, Jung, Barnett, & Williams, 2015) . The authors of many studies advocate for policy shifts to make high quality preschool programming more acc essible to children from low income families as particip ation in a high quality preschool program has shown significant advancements in closing the school readiness gap for this population specifically (Soria, 2016) . Language, vocabulary, and mathematics skills are touted as the main areas of academic gain in high quality preschool programs . One study found positive effects on children's math skills after participating in a preschool mathematics intervention (Watts, Clements, Sarama, Wolfe, Spitler, & Bailey, 2017) . However, gains in this study were primarily i dentified in "state" mathematics skills rather than "trait" mathema tics skills . The authors found improvement in current mathematics knowledge and potential benefits in transfer of knowledge skills as students enter kindergarten, but did not find statistic ally significant benefit in trait mathematics, which influences stable differences in achievement over time . Results of this study suggest a more important skill set learned in preschool is knowledge transition, rather than mastery of specific academic ski lls (Watts et al., 2017) . One study examined the Missouri Preschool Program in rural , southwest Missouri to identify academic benefits over time as they correlate to participation in the program (Hall, 2015) . Results of this study found students who par ticipated in the Missouri Preschool Program

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) ! ! ! did not show statistically significant score differences in areas of academic achievement from their peers who did not attend the preschool program . However, t he study did find a great deal of qualitative data th at suggest ed perceptions of higher sc hool readiness, improved fine motor skills, increased parent involvement, and advanced social development in students who attended the Missouri Preschool Program (Hall, 2015) . Research suggests that a cademic achievemen t skills acquired during preschool tend to fade or even out over the early elementary years with variation of fadeout severity based upon several factors including preschool quality, kindergarten and early elementary school quality, parent involvement, tea cher involvement, socioeconomic status, etc . ( Magnuson & Duncan, 2016) . O verall education attainment and earnings in adulthood, however, appear to represent long term benefits associat ed with preschool participation ( Magnuson & Duncan, 2016) . Several studi es ( e.g., Johnson, 2010; Shah et al. , 2017) suggest high quality kindergarten and first grade classrooms may help to mitigate the effects of preschool fadeout . Research indicates that high quality instruction and transition supports could play an important role in helping sustain the benefits of preschool participation into later elementary school years and beyond (Johnson, 2010) . Preschool Participation and Social/Emotional Benefits Similar to academic benefits, social emotional gains have been found to be higher fo r children who attend two years rather than one year of a high quality preschool program (Jenkins, et . al., 2015) . Moore et al. , (2015) argue that social emotional skills facilitate school readiness and preschools should include evidence based social emotional learning curricula . High quality preschool programs are commonly defined using four key program aspects or components (Pianta, Downer, & Hamre, 2016) . The first aspect involves structural elements such as length of the school day and tea cher credentials . The second aspect examines general

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* ! ! ! classroom features, including classroom environment, activities involving children, teachers, and pa rents, etc . The third aspect involves dimensions of student teacher interaction by asking , how are teac hers and students interacting ? and how is student teacher interaction facilitated day to day? The final aspect involves quality ratings and improvement scales . The second and third aspects highlight the importance of social emotional curriculum as a measur e of program quality . Classrooms with strong social emotional curricul a may aid in positive student teacher relationships and classroom environment (Poulou, 2016) . In one study, researchers examined Head Start programs with and without the use of the H ead Start REDI (Research Based, Developmentally Informed) model (Nix et . al., 2016) . The REDI model included language emergent literacy and a research based social emotional skills curriculum . Students were followed for five years and results indicated tha t students who participated in the REDI program followed "optimal developmental trajectories" defined by various factors, including higher social competence ; lower incidence of aggressive, defiant, and oppositional behavior ; lower incidence of attention pr oblems ; and lower incidence of peer rejection than their peers who did not participate in the REDI program (Nix et al., 2016) . This study supports the argument that high quality preschool programming represents best practice and may be associated with both short term and long term benefits for students . While preschool participation appears to be correlated with positive outcomes in social emotional learning and emotion regulation skills for most children, it may present distinct benefit to children with challenging behaviors . One study found parent training to be an effective tool to mitigate behavior concerns; a preschool summer program with a social emotional learning component rendered additional benefits ( Graziano & Hart, 2016) . Six month follow up da ta showed that children who participated in the summer preschool program showed greater growth in emotion knowledge and regulation, as well as academic achievement and executive function

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+ ! ! ! when compared to peers who did not participate in the program , but wh ose parents also received parent education and training . As noted, s ubstantial research supports the inclusion of social emotional learning in high quality preschool programs ( e.g., Bierman & Mojdeh, 2015, Nix, Bier man, Domitrovich, & Gill, 2013; Bridgel and, Bruce, & Hariharan, 2013) . However, many parents and educators remain in support of a " traditional academic " preschool focus . Buis (2014) examined educator perceptions o f the " traditional academic " verses the " whole child " approach to preschool curric ulum . Results revealed a moderately statistically significant correlation between the perceived importance of social emotional competence and positive outcomes in later years . While most educators agreed that social emotional learning should play a role in preschool curriculum, strong support for pre literacy and pre numeracy skills remained a key area of concern as well (Buis, 2014) . High quality preschool programs are challenged with finding an adequate balance between traditional academic and whole child curricul a within the limited hours of a traditional preschool day to generate maximum positive results for the students they serve . Early Intervention and Associated Financial Gains Although some children will always require special education services t o access learning within the least restrictive environment, many other children may benefit from early intervention services and be de classified or have their special education label removed over time . In a 2015 study, authors DuPaul, Kern, Caskie and Vol pe found significant improvement in reading and math skills for students with Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at risk for learning difficulty . In contrast to children who receive benefit from early intervention services during preschool and no longer show need for special education services in elementary school, the majority of children who enter special education in early elementary years are likely to remain in special education through out the duration of their schooling ( Dubno & Dolce, 20 11) .

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, ! ! ! A North Carolina study found that access to early childhood programs, such as high quality preschool, significantly reduced the number of children placed in special education in third grade ( Muschkin, Ladd, & Dodge, 2015) . Similarly, a Miami study ex amined special education placement among children with gestational cocaine exposure who participated in either a home based or center based early education program . Results indicate that roughly 14% of students who participated in the center based program were identified for special education services in middle school compared with 30% of the students who participated in the home based program (Buckrop, Roberts, & LoCasale Crouch, 2016 ) . Findings from these studies indicate that preschool programs can decre ase the need for future special education placement. There are also substantial financial benefits of early intervention . According to the National Education Association (NEA) , the average education cost per student in the United States is $7,552 and the average cost per student receiving special education services is $16,921 (NEA, 2017) . Research suggests that participation in preschool may be a viable means of decreasing the number of students who require special education support (e.g., Buckrop et al., 2016; Muschkin et al., 2015 ) . Early intervention is also associated with higher rates of de classification for special education services (Dubno & Dolce, 2011) . In 2008, it was estimated that providing high quality preschool with class size s between 15 an d 20 students and teachers holding at least a Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education would cost between $8,521 and $10,375 per student depending on class size (Gault & Williams, 2008) . Using these estimates, each identified student who benefi ts from early intervention in preschool and does not subsequently require special education services in later years could save taxpayers over $9,000 annually. Participation in high quality preschool programs is also associated with more timely referral fo r special education services for children who need them : students who attend preschool

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$! ! are more likely to be referred for special education services earl ier than their same age peers (Parsons, 2016) . Early intervention has the potential to reduce the need for continued special education and other long term services at a much lower cost . Recent Changes and Mandates in Early Childhood Education Early learning standards, or the expectations of content children should know and skills or tasks they should be a ble to perform before kindergarten, have been adopted by all U.S . states, territories, and the District of Columbia ( Bruin Parecki, 2016) . Early learning standards vary state to state, though many state funded early childhood education programs rely on the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework: Ages Birth the Five (ELOF) and the Early Childhood Program Standards set forth by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) to develop curriculum ( Bruin Parecki , 2016) . In contrast t o the assorted standards found in early education programs across the United States, in primary and secondary public education , forty two states, four territories, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) have adop ted Common Core State Standards for education (CCSS; Common Core State Standards Initiative, 2018) . The debate of necessity for early childhood learning standards in the American education system spans decades . Jennings (1995), argued standards in educat ion are crucial and provide basic clarity as to what students are expected to learn and how they are expected to learn it . Other advocates of clear learning standards highlight the need for equity in the American education system, touting access to challen ging curriculum and content for all students to level the playing field in early years ( Kagan, 2012) . Potential disadvantages of learning standards include teacher preparedness and ongoing professional development ( Bruin Parecki , 2016) . Experts argue tha t without well trained educators implementing evidence based curriculum with fidelity, standards will have minimal

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$$ ! ! impact on student success (Tout, Halle, Daily, Alvertson Junkans, & Moodie, 2013) . A n additional concern around implemented learning standard s is the consideration of diversity in early learning and the lack of quality training in diversity found in America ' s teacher education programs ( Bruin Parecki, 2016) . Some argue that standardization in a system which includes children who are inherently economically disadvantaged, have limited English speaking skills, and may have special needs adds to inequity as unrealistic uniform standards are set for all students (Brown, 2017) . The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act (2001) reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education act and put a focus on standards based education reform . With a rise in K 12 educator accountability under NCLB, standards based education was embraced and early learning settings such as preschool were viewed as opportunities for k indergarten preparation in many states and territories ( Bruin Parecki , 2016) . In 1999, before the implementation of NCLB, only ten states had some form of early learning standards (Scott Little, Lesko, Martella, & Milburn, 2007) . In 2002, the Bush administ ration implemented the Good Start, Grow Smart Initiative which encouraged early childhood education stakeholders at the state level to align curriculum to the K 12 standards in the areas of pre reading, language, and mathematics ( Brown, 2017) . This initiat ive proposed that despite significant resources, many children were not able to benefit from high quality pre kindergarten education due to several factors, including limited alignment between preschool programs and K 12 standards in most states, lack of s tandardized evaluation of preschool programs based on school readiness and preparation for success in K 12 settings, and limited information for early childhood teachers, parents, etc . on how to prepare children for academic success ( Office of the White Ho use, 2002) . The Good Start, Grow Smart initiative is credited with an increase to 27 states creating early learning standards by the end of 2002 (Scott Little et al., 2007) .

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$% ! ! In 2002, the National Association for the Education of Young Children ( NAEYC ) an d the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education ( NAECS /SDE) issued a joint statement . With endorsement from the Council of Chief State School Officers and the American Academy of Pediatrics , as well as the Natio nal Association of Elementary School Principals, the statement called for guidelines for early learning standards including . Proposed guidelines emphasized that optimal results of standards based early education can only be achieved if standards 1) emphasi ze significant, developmentally appropriate content and outcomes; 2) are developed and reviewed through informed, inclusive processes; 3) use implementation and assessment strategies that are ethical and appropriate for young children; and 4) are accompani ed by strong supports for early childhood programs, professionals, and families (NAEYC, NAECS/SDE, 2002) . By 2006, 49 states and the District of Columbia had clear early learning standards, though standards remain varied between states and not all states have a clear emphasis on areas other than academic skills, such as social/emotional learning (Kagan, 2012) . Bruin Parecki outline s the need for more current research regarding early learning standards and their effectiveness, noting most research in this area was conducted between 2003 and 2010 while early education learning standards have continued to evolve on a state by state basis (2016) . Early learning standards will continue to change and research has not kept up with education reform in the United S tates : the most recent available research from all 50 states, U.S . territories, and the District of Columbia suggests that in 2010, all states had early language and literacy standards and almost all states had standards in mathematics, science, creative a rts, social studies, social/emotional development, and physical health and development in some form, though these standards and how they are evaluated changes over time ( Daily, Burkhauser, & Halle, 2010).

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$& ! ! In more recent years, states have been encouraged to innovate new standards to generate early learning success with programs such as the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge set forth by the Obama Administration in 2009 . This grant competition program, funded with over a billion dollars, focus ed on i mproving early learning outcomes by encouraging states efforts to meet three main goals: 1) increase the number and percentage of low income and disadvantaged children in each age group of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers who are enrolled in high qualit y early learning programs; 2) design and implement an integrated system of high quality early learning programs and services; and 3) ensure that any use of assessments conforms with the recommendations of the National Research Council ' s reports on early ch ildhood (Department of Education, United States, 2009) . Via a meta analytic approach , t his study aims to further examine the magnitude of academic and social/emotional benefits associated with preschool participation using the most recent research in thi s area .

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$' ! ! CHAPTER III A META ANALYSIS OF ACADEMIC AND SOCIAL/EMOTIONAL BENEFITS OF PRESCHOOL PARTICIAPTION Hypothesis and Objective The predominant hypothesis of this research is that participation in high quality preschool programs is assoc iated with quantifiable benefits in academic and social/emotional skills in early elementary school years . While extensive research to support the positive effects of preschool participation exists, most available research is dated and does not examine the impact of modern preschool participation . The objective of this study is to examine the relationship between preschool participation and academic and social/emotional benefits in recently published research . Experimental Design A sample of published st udies was collected using six criteria for inclusion and five criteria for exclusion . Multiple cohorts and intervention variables within selected studies allowed for potential replication of results . Calculation of Effect Size (ES) was determined as the appropriate method of statistical analysis in accordance with Sullivan and Feinn (2012) who argued that P value, which informs if an effect exists is not sufficient . Rather, the magnitude of effect, found by calculating ES is crucial when discussing implic ations for practice . Effect sizes for each study variable and cohort were calculated using means, standard deviation s , and N values, when available . In order to account for small sample size and unequal sample and control sizes, Cohen ' s d , Hedges ' g , and G lass ' s ! were all calculated and compared for each possible variable using parameters outlined by Ialongo (2016) .

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$( ! ! Materials and Methods Literature Search . Using the four stage and seven step model for meta analysis proposed by Cooper (2015), the literat ure search was treated as an independent process . Multiple strategies were used to ensure a non biased and comprehensive pool of studies for review . Relevant studies were identified through online search tool s inc luding Google Scholar, PsycInfo , PsycArticl es, the Education Resou rced Information Center (ERIC), and the Auraria Library online database . T he following search terms and their variants were used in different combinations : preschool participa tion; academic learning; social/ emotional learning; long t erm benefits; effects of preschool participation; early literacy; emotion recognition and regulation; early math skills; elementary school; early childhood education; childhood development; protective factors; intervention; coping skills; children; student s; famili es; early intervention; growth . Additionally, the ancestry method was utilized to find additional studies related to preschool participation in reviews and articles reporting on empirical studies . Specifically, reference sections of articles wer e inspected for relevant studies that had not yet been detected via the primary research method . Relevant journals were also searched for current studies that were no more than five years old . These journals included: Journal of School Psychology, Journal of Early Childhood Research, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Early Childhood Education Journal, Journal of Research in Early Childhood Education, Social Development, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology , Child Development, Journal of Early Chi ldhood and Infant Psychology, and Developmental Psychology . A total of 41 studies were initially identified through these search methods and evaluated using the following inclusion and exclusion criteria . Inclusion Criteria . Studies eligible for inclusio n in the meta analysis : 1) were written in English for researcher accessibility; 2) appeared in published or unpublished form between

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$) ! ! January 1, 2013 and December 1 , 2017; 3) included a control group; 4) examined academic and/or social/emotional learning f actors; 5) provided sufficient information to report effect sizes (ES); 6) were quantitative studies with significant or non significant ES; and 7) outcome data was based on measure(s) with reported reliability and validity statistics or a measurable conti nuous variable . Three studies met all inclusion criteria . This is considered adequate for a meta analysis ( Treadwell, Tregear, Reston & Turkelson, 2006 ). Exclusion Criteria . Studies excluded from review: 1) did not show sufficient post intervention data; 2) did not include academic and/or social/emotional outcomes; 3) did not provide a control group; 4) were not published within the inclusion criteria time frame; 5) were qualitative studies and relied solely on teacher or parent interview . The most common reason for exclusion was that studies were outdated (more than five years old ), eliminating 19 studies . Within the required publication time frame, the most common reason for exclusion was lack of a control group (eliminating 10 studies) . Statistical Ana lyses . Calculation of Effect Size (ES) was carried out using the online program, Effect Size Calculators, developed and maintained by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University . Means and standard deviations were used to calculate the standard mean difference ef fect sizes with 95% confidence intervals . Cohen's (1988) suggested parameters for determining effect size magnitude were used for this study: 0.2 = small ES; 0 .5 = moderate ES; 0.8 = large ES . Summary of Included Studies The first study selected for meta analysis (study ID number:1) sought to assess sustained effects of the Head Start Research Based, Developmentally Informed (REDI) model . The authors conducted a randomized control group study to determine the effects of the REDI

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$* ! ! program on developmental t rajectories of participants when compared to a control group . ( Nix et . al., 2016) . Study 1 examined the following areas: social competence, aggressive oppositional behavior, learning engagement, attention problems, student teacher closeness, and peer rej ection . Variables were measured via rating scales completed by six teachers over five years . Social competence was measured using thirteen items from the Social Competence Scale . Seven items from the Authority Acceptance subscale of the Teacher Observation of Classroom Adaptation Revised were used to measure aggressive oppositional behavior . Learning engagement was assessed using eight questions developed for the Head Start REDI program . Attention problems were measured using eight items from the Inattentiv e Impulsive subscale of the ADHD Rating Scale . Student Teacher closeness was measured with eight items from the Student Teacher Relationship Scale, and peer rejection was assessed using three items from the Excluded by Peers subscale of the Child Behavior Scale (Nix et . al., 2016) . The second study meeting inclusion criteria for the meta analysis (study ID number 2) was conducted by Hall in 2016 . Study 2 examined long term academic benefits associated with participation in a rural preschool program in Mis souri . Study 2 was a multi year mixed methods study and collected quantitative data including academic skills in communication arts for preschool participants and a control group in kindergarten, first grade, and second grade . Qualitative data collected fo r this study included teacher report measures of social development, school readiness, and emotional development . Results of study 2 did not find an overall statistically significant difference in academic scores as measured by Aimsweb Curriculum Based M easures in grade level cohorts . The qualitative data collected for this study revealed teacher perception of the benefits associated

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$+ ! ! with preschool participation including school readiness, advanced social development, improved fin e motor development, and increased parental involvement (Hall, 2016) . The third study selected for inclusion (study ID number 3) examined the effectiveness of a conversational emotion recognition training program available to preschool students . This study was short term when co mpared with studies 1 and 2 and involved a pre test, post test, and follow up for data collection . Study 3 started with a pre test of intervention and control group of students followed by the intervention or " training " phase, which lasted six weeks . Four months elapsed between the pre test and post test phases of the study and an addition al four months elapsed between the post test and follow up phases of the study (Ornaghi et . al., 2014) . Results reported in study 3 indicated that students in the interv ention group outperformed students in the control group on measures of Emotion Comprehension (EC) and prosocial orientation during the post test and follow up phases . No statistically significant differences in performance were found during the pre test ph ase of this study and the study results controlled for advances in verbal ability . Measures used in study 3 include the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT), the False Belief Location Change Task, the Prosocial Orientation Story Completion Task (develope d for this study), and the Test of Emotion Comprehension (TEC) . The intervention group did not perform significantly better than the control group on measures of false belief understa nding (Ornaghi et . al., 2014) .

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$, ! ! CHAPTER IV RESULTS Descriptive Vari ables In order to conduct this meta analysis, an initial 41 studies were narrowed down to 3 studies meeting inclusion cri teria for the analysis . Refer to Table 1 for detailed characteristics of each study . The total sample included nine variables and 478 participants (246 in intervention groups and 232 in control groups) . Table 1 Characteristics of studies included in the meta analysis Study Year Intervention Group Sample Size Variable Grade Levels Assessed Method of Assessment 1 Nix et . al. 2016 Five year follow up study with 91% retention Year 1: 343 Year 2: 321 Year 3: 322 Year 4: 302 Year 5: 288 Social Competence Kindergarten, First, Second, Third Teacher report and observation using psychometrically sound instruments Aggressive Behavior Kinde rgarten, First, Second, Third Teacher report and observation using psychometrically sound instruments Peer Rejection Kindergarten, First, Second, Third Teacher report and observation using psychometrically sound instruments Student Teacher Closenes s Kindergarten, First, Second, Third Teacher report and observation using psychometrically sound instruments Learning Engagement Kindergarten, First, Second, Third Teacher report and observation using psychometrically sound instruments Attention Pr oblems Kindergarten, First, Second, Third Teacher report and observation using psychometrically sound instruments 2 Hall 2016 207 Letter Sounds Kindergarten Aimsweb assessment of letter number sounds

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%! ! Table 1 Continued Reading First, Second Aimsweb assessment; CBM 3 Ornaghi et al . 2015 75 Pro social Orientation Kindergarten Prosocial Orientation Story Completion Task and teacher observation Total Emotional Comprehension Kindergarten Test of Emotion Comprehension (TEC) and teacher observation data Outcome Var iables The overall range of effect sizes (Cohen's d) fell between 0. 07 and 0.29 ; the majority of variable effect sizes calculated in the reviewed studies were not statistically significant . Effect sizes with significance fell in the small to moderate sign ificance range . Effect size was higher for study 3, which spanned a short period of time (i.e., pre test/post test) and included one specific intervention rather than a multi year approach to data collection including exposure to several interventions with varied fidelity in delivery . A l arge e ffect s ize was found for the Prosocial Orientation variable in Study 3 in the post test (Cohen ' s d = 1.064) and follow up (Cohen ' s d = .8240) phases . The authors of Study 3 define Prosocial Orientation as " an individ ual ' s tendency to feel empathy for others and to behave pro socially " ( Ornagh, et al. ., 2015) . Moderate to large e ffect s ize (Cohen ' s d = .7093) was found for the Total Emotional Comprehension variable in Study 3 during post test, though e ffect s ize was sl ightly lower (Cohen ' s d = .6971) for the Total Emotional Comprehension variable in the follow up phase . The authors of Study 3 define Emotional Comprehension as " a set of abilities enabling the child to understand the nature and causes of emotions and the fact that emotions may be regulated through specific behavioral and cognitive strategies " ( Ornaghi et al ., 2015) . Total Emotional Comprehension appears to require a more varied and advanced set of skills than Prosocial Orientation, which may contribute to some level of fadeout when the intervention was discontinued and therefore a lower effect size during the follow up phase of the study . E ffect sizes for each study are included in Tables 2 4 .

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%$ ! ! Table 2 . Study 1 Effect Size Calculations Variable Cohen's d Hedges' g Glass's ! Statement of Effect Social Competence Kindergarten .2914 .2910 .2959 Small effect size; the treatment group exhibited better social competence than the control group . First .1025 .1024 .1010 Effect Size not significant Secon d .2797 .2794 .2783 Small effect size; the treatment group exhibited better social competence than the control group. Third .0717 .0716 .0707 Effect Size not significant Aggressive Behavior Kindergarten .2975 .2972 .3012 Small effect size; the tr eatment group exhibited less aggressive behavior than the control group. First .0823 .0822 .0823 Effect Size not significant Second .1951 .1949 .1868 Effect Size not significant Third .0722 .0721 .0705 Effect Size not significant Learning En gagement Kindergarten .2432 .2429 .2432 Small effect size; the treatment group exhibited higher learning engagement than the control group. First .0286 .0286 .0303 Effect Size not significant Second .2474 .2471 .2427 Small effect size; the treatment group exhibited higher learning engagement than the control group. Third .0492 .0491 .0480 Effect Size not significant Attention Problems Kindergarten .1357 .1356 .1375 Effect Size not significant First .0735 .0734 .0759 Effect Size not sign ificant Second .1281 .1280 .1265 Effect Size not significant Third .0974 .0973 .0941 Effect Size not significant Student Teacher Closeness Kindergarten .1341 .1340 .1406 Effect Size not significant First .1175 .1173 .1230 Effect Size not sig nificant

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%% ! ! Table 2 Continued Second .4412 .4078 .4406 Small to Moderate effect size; the treatment group exhibited higher levels of student teacher closeness than the control group. Third .1705 .1702 .1585 Effect Size not significant Peer Rejection Kindergarten .135 1 .1349 .1428 Effect Size not significant First .0268 .0273 .0268 Effect Size not significant Second .3419 .3415 .3200 Small effect size; the treatment group exhibited fewer instances of peer rejection than the control group. Third .0490 .0490 .0487 Effect Size not significant 0.2 = small ES; 0.5 = moderate ES; 0.8 = large ES. The overall mean effect size for social emotional skills in the studies included in the meta analysis was 0.1728 (median ES = 0.0985), suggesting there was not a stati stically significant difference between control and treatment groups (or pre test/post test conditions) on measures of social/emotional functioning as a whole in the studies selected for review . Table 3 . Study 3 Effect Size Calculations Variable Cohen' s d Hedges' g Glass's ! Statement of Effect Pre Test Total Emotional Comprehension .1638 ---.1721 Effect Size not significant Prosocial Orientation .4343 ---.4166 Small to Moderate Effect Size; the treatment group exhibited better prosocia l orientation than the control group Post Test Total Emotional Comprehension .7093 ---.7175 Moderate to Large Effect Size; the treatment group exhibited better total Emotional Comprehension than the control group

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%& ! ! Table 3 Continued Prosocial Orientation 1.064 ---.9375 Large Effect Size; the treatment group exhibited better prosocial orientation than the control group Follow Up Total Emotional Comprehension .6971 ---.6277 Moderate Effect Size; the treatment group exhibited better total Emotional Comprehensi on than the control group Prosocial Orientation .8240 ---.7363 Large Effect Size; the treatment group exhibited better prosocial orientation than the control group 0.2 = small ES; 0.5 = moderate ES; 0.8 = large ES. The overall mean effect size for ac ademic skills was 0.0579 (median ES = 0.0527) indicating no significance in difference between control and treatment groups on measures of academic achievement as a whole . Table 4 . Study 2 Effect Size Calculations Cohort Cohen's d Hedges' g Glass's ! S tatement of Effect Academic Skills: Cohort 1 Kindergarten .2250 .2155 .2281 Small Effect Size; the treatment group performed better on curriculum based measures than the control group First .0903 .0865 .1038 Effect Size not significant Second .7 226 .6921 .6429 Moderate Effect Size; the treatment group performed better on curriculum based measures than the control group

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%' ! ! Table 4 Continued Academic Skills: Cohort 2 Kindergarten .2785 .2704 .2671 Small Effect Size; the treatment group performed worse on curri culum based measures than the control group First .2628 .2552 .2522 Small Effect Size; the treatment group performed worse on curriculum based measures than the control group Second .2374 .2305 .2460 Small Effect Size; the treatment group performed worse on curriculum based measures than the control group Academic Skills: Cohort 3 Kindergarten .3874 .3769 .3468 Small Effect Size; the treatment group performed better on curriculum based measures than the control group First .3910 .3805 .3708 S mall Effect Size; the treatment group performed better on curriculum based measures than the control group Second .5549 .5399 .4302 Small to Moderate Effect Size; the treatment group performed better on curriculum based measures than the control group Ac ademic Skills: Cohort 4 Kindergarten .0241 .0235 .0256 Effect Size not significant

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%( ! ! Table 4 Continued First .3781 .3679 2.686 Small Effect Size; the treatment group performed worse on curriculum based measures than the control group Second .0732 .0712 .0962 E ffect Size not significant Academic Skills: Cohort 5 Kindergarten .0477 .0464 .0437 Effect Size not significant First .1288 .1253 .1265 Effect Size not significant Second .1415 .1377 .1329 Effect Size not significant Academic Skills: All Cohorts Kindergarten .0416 .0414 .0405 Effect Size not significant First .0419 .0417 .0424 Effect Size not significant Second .1227 .1220 .1172 Effect Size not significant 0.2 = small ES; 0.5 = moderate ES; 0.8 = large ES. For the purpose of t his study , long term is defined as studies with data spanning at least three years post preschool participation and short term is defined as studies using results from a single cohort over pre test, intervention, and post test conditions . Of 26 cohorts/var iables measuring long term academic skills, 11 showed significant effect sizes (42%) . A moderate effect size was found in one cohort measuring academic skills in 2 nd grade . All other long term academic skills variables showed a small effect size , suggestin g students who attend preschool may not exhibit significantly higher levels of academic skills during early elementary school years . Of 16 cohorts/variables measuring long term social/emotional skill development, 5 showed significant effect sizes (31%) . O f 20 long term and short term cohorts/variables measuring social/emotional development, 9 showed significant effect sizes (45%) . Of the 46 total cohorts/variables measured across all post intervention conditions, 20 showed significant effect sizes (43%) . E ffect sizes with the highest significance level were found in variables measured

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%) ! ! shortly after intervention delivery . This helps to support the argument that preschool fadeout is a noteworthy concern around both academic and social/emotional skills .

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%* ! ! CHAPT ER V DISCUSSION The goal of this study was to examine the impact of participation in today's high quality preschool on school readiness, ac ademic skills, and social/ emotional functioning . Although consistent benefits associated with preschool attendance we re not observed across the three studies i ncluded in the analyses, there we re some important findings . The most significant outcome of this research relates to the short term study of emotional comprehension and prosocial behavior . These findings, when com pared to long er term studies, support the previous research indicating that the positive effects of preschool may fade out over time ( Magnuson, & Duncan, 2016) . In practice, this may mean that mastered skills should not be abandoned at an early age . Strong social/emotional skills are vital to long term success in the American education system and should be supported and evaluated at each stage of learning (Garcia, 2016) . Rather than moving from one skill set to another, perhaps a greater focus in the presch ool system should be placed on combining and building complimentary academic and social skills . Qualitative data suggest teacher perce ive significantly increased social skills development and family involvement in students who attended preschool (Hall, 2 016) . Building relationships with families and the community in an early education environment may contribute to substantial benefits for students with identified risk factors such as low socioeconomic status . With the consideration of research suggesting social/emotional skills developed in preschool years may be more sustainable at higher levels than academic skills ( Haskins, 2016) , as well as the argument that soci al/ emotional skills facilitate school readiness (Moore, et al., 2015), evidence based socia l/emotional curriculum should remain a priority in Amer ican preschool classrooms .

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%+ ! ! The overall mean effect size indicated no significance in difference between control and treatment groups on measures of academic achievement as a whole . These findings par allel Hall ' s study (2015) , suggesting little evidence that preschool participation significantly bolsters long term academic achievement. However, previous results of increased school readiness and ongoing parent involvement should not be overlooked , as th ese factors have shown a statistically significant positive impact on long term academic achievement (Castro, Exp—sito Casas, L—pez Mart’n, Lizasoain, Navarro Asencio, & Gaviria, 2015). While the overall mean effect size of the study did not show signifi cance in academic benefits , a small effect size was noted in some specific areas of academic achievement . Similar to results found with a mathematics specific intervention (Watts, Clements, Sarama, Wolfe, Spitler, & Bailey, 2017), this could mean early a cademic intervention supports knowledge transition skills or applying learned skills in new settings, such as elementary school, rather than generati ng significant academic growth. As outlined by Johnson (2010), high quality instruction and transition supp orts may be key in sustaining early academic benefits over time . Limitations Meta analysis as a means of synthesizing research has many inherent limitations , such as limited available research, common research objectives, and potential outcome sensiti vity . This study mitigated limitations by following key requirements outlined by Walker, Hernandez, and Kattan (2008), including the selection of studies with well defined objectives and precise definitions of variables and outcomes; employing an appropria te and well documented study identification and selection strategy; and limiting bias in the identification and selection of studies . The main limitation in this study is lack of data within the de signated research timeline of the past five years . Presch ool curricul a and pedagogy appear to shift with the public education

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%, ! ! system . The determination of what " school readiness " looks like c an change with each new federal, state, and local education administration . With the shift to academic preparation, new pr eschool curricul a ha ve been introduced . Thus, this study sought to determine the effectiveness of preschool in recent years, as American preschool curricul a appears to have changed sign ificantly over the past decade. Another limitation relates to the smal l number of studies that met inclusion criteria . This prevented the completion of a multivariate analysis to determine if the factors examined in the subgroup analyses may be confounding each other . Therefore, some caution should be used in drawing conclus ions regarding the potential benefits of preschool participation . Additionally, the outcome measures used varied quite widely, making it challenging to compare outcomes on any measure beyond examining simple effect sizes. Although they are considered accep table as statistical measures, effect sizes are generally viewed as less reliable than other statistical approaches to analysis and therefore, this study would have benefitted from more standardized sources of outcome data . This was not possible, largely d ue to a general lack of recent research examining the benefits of preschool participation . Although the minimum number of studies to permit a meta analysis is only three studies (Treadwell et al, 2006), the small number of studies included in this meta ana lytic review limits the generalizability of the findings . It also limited the opportunity to examine and adjust for publication bias by means of more complex analytic methods (Macaskill, Walter & Irwig, 2001) . Moreover, all the primary studies that were in cluded into the meta analysis had small sample sizes . Therefore, the results should be interpreted with caution . If study sample sizes are relatively small, randomization may not result in equivalence of the contrasted groups . Finally, only published stu dies were included in the present meta analysis and thus these studies do not form a random sample of all studies conducted on the subject . Because studies

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&! ! with nonsignificant findings are less likely to be published than those which achieved statistical s ignificance (Hall & Rosenthal, 1995), there is the potential for a publication bias . Implications for Practice Early learning standards vary significantly state to state ( Bruin Parecki, 2016) and are not federally regulated like K 12 public education st andards . In Colorado, early learning academic standards are available for a variety of content areas including r eading, writing and communicating, mathematics, science, social studies, music dance, drama and theatre arts, comprehensive health and physical education, visual arts, and world languages , as well as defined social development and emotional development standards for ages birth to 3 and 3 to 5 (Colorado Department of Education, 2011) . The Colorado Early Learning Standards were formally adopted by a ll Colorado school districts in December of 2011 . The most significant findings in this study suggest preschool age children exhibit short term benefit from evidence based instruction and interventions . A great deal of previous research (e.g., Bakken, et al . , 2017; Graziano & Hart, 2016; Soria, 2016) suggests fadeout of skills acquired in preschool is a concern in early elementary years . While additional research regarding long term benefits associated with participation in high quality, standards based p reschool is needed, these results clearly support concrete, consistent and repeated exposure to early academic and social/emotional learning skills . Conclusions and Future Directions With the limitation of sample size and available studies conducted with in the desired time frame, further and more current research is badly needed in this area . An abundance of studies outlining the benefits and effectiveness of preschool programs in the 1990 ' s exists in the professional literature . However, as preschool ped agogy has changed significantly, current

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& $ ! ! research is needed to determine if " the new preschool " continues to show positive long term results . Many studies suggest significant positive outcomes for preschool participants in early elementary years (e.g., Bakken et al., 2017 ; Graziano & Hart, 2016; Soria, 2016) though fadeout is a noted concern in late elementary school ( Haskins, 2016) . As early education standards continue to evolve and include content areas beyond academics, such as social/emotional learn ing and physical development ( Daily, Burkhauser & Halle, 2010), long term research regarding effectiveness of new early learning standards and curriculum delivery techniques is needed to ensure evidence based practices are in place in America ' s Early Child hood Ed ucation (ECE) programs and classrooms . Beneficial future research may include an evaluat ion of both academic and social/ emotional skills in later years , as well as a comprehensive comparison of kindergarten experiences, such as full day verses ha lf day, post preschool . Long term research is also needed to determine the success of any changes to early childhood education and early elementary school curriculum standards that attempt to address preschool fadeout and generate long term academic and so cial/emotional success into adolescence and adulthood. Available research lacks in depth reviews of diverse curriculum content and culturally responsive teaching practices in preschool and other early learning settings . Additional questions may include whe ther evidence based curriculum and interventions are adequately available to children and families with low socioeconomic status and/or culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, children with developmental disabilities, and those who face other ch allenges such as homelessness or lack of adequate nutrition. Overall, a broad range o f up to date research from a variety of sources is lacking to answer the question: Is America ' s public preschool effectively preparing children for their K 12 classrooms o n both acade mic and social/emotional levels.

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&) ! ! Sullivan, G . M., & Feinn, R . (2012) . Using effect size Ñ or why the P value is not enough . Journal of graduate medical education , 4 (3), 279 282. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and The National Associati on of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS/SDE) . (2002, November 19) . Early Learning Standards: Creating the Conditions for Success . [position statement] . Retrieved January 02, 2018, from https://www.naeyc.org Torres, Z . (2013, August 3) . Colorado children edged out of preschool because of limited funding . The Denver Post . Retrieved May 13, 2017, from http://www.denverpost.com/2013/08/03/colorado children edged out of preschool because of limited funding/ Tout, K., Halle, T., Daily, S., Albertson Junkans, L., & Moodie, S . (2013) . The research base for a birth thro ugh age eight state policy framework . Washington, DC: Alliance for Early Success and Child Trends . Trawick Smith, J . (2014) . Early childhood development (6th ed.) . Boston, MA: Pearson. Treadwell, J . R., Tregear, S . J., Reston, J . T., & Turkelson, C . H . ( 2006) . A system for rating the stability and strength of medical evidence . Medical Research Technology, 6 (52). Troe, J . (2016, July) . Early Learning in Colorado . Retrieved May 12, 2017, from https://cdn.am ericanprogress.org/ United States, Department of Education . (2015) . A Matter of Equity: Preschool in America (pp. 1 14). Walker, E., Hernandez, A . V., & Kattan, M . W . (2008) . Meta analysis: Its strengths and limitations . Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine , 75 (6), 431. Watts, T . W., Clements, D . H., Sarama, J., Wolfe, C . B., Spitler, M . E., & Bailey, D . H . (2017) . Does Early Mathematics Intervention Change the Processes Underlying Children's Learning? Journal of Research on Educational Effectivene ss , 10 (1), 96 115. White House . ( 2002 ) . Good start, grow smart: The Bush administration's Early Childhood Initiative . Retrieved from https://georgewbushwhitehouse.archives.gov Yoshikaw , H., Wei land, C., & Brooks Gunn, J . (2016) . When Does Preschool Matter? The Future of Children , 26 (2), 21 35. Zhai, F., Raver, C . C., & Jones, S . M . (2015) . Social and emotional learning services and child outcomes in third grade: Evidence from a cohort of Head Start participants . Children and Y outh S ervices R eview , 56 , 42 51. *Studies included in meta analysis