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Overview of the Research on The Creative Curriculum

Overview of the Research on The Creative Curriculum® forPreschool 
by Jennifer Park-Jadotte, Director of Research, Teaching Strategies, Inc.  

The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool: Scientifically-Based with a Valid and Reliable Assessment Tool

Today, preschool educators as well as parents with preschool children enrolled in a preschool program, ask lots of questions about learning programs (curriculum).  Much of this new attention is due to the recently enacted No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and its mandate to use scientifically-based models. As a result, programs want to know the science "behind" each curriculum model. Suddenly, terms such as "valid," "reliable," and "scientifically-based" are being used in our everyday conversations. So, what does all of this technical language really mean?

Does "scientifically-based" mean a curriculum model should be based on scientific research? Does it mean a curriculum model has to be shown to work when tested with scientific methods and measures? As we will describe in this article, The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool passes both tests.

What Is the Research Behind The Creative Curriculum?

The Creative Curriculum® for Preschool is based on the past 75 years of research. Many of the important works of theorists (Piaget, Erikson, Maslow, Vygotsky, Gardner, Smilansky) and more recent research on learning and the brain and learning and resiliency were used in developing The Creative Curriculum®.

Is The Creative Curriculum a Valid Model?

Validity in this case refers to the effectiveness of The Creative Curriculum® in promoting children's learning in the classrooms. This curriculum has been proven to be a valid model through effectiveness research. This means researchers studied how children benefit from exposure to this curriculum. Not surprisingly, these studies revealed what many teachers who use this curriculum have known intuitively, that children who learn in classrooms implementing this curriculum fare better than children who are exposed to different curriculum models that don't use an integrated approach.

The most notable research citing the successes of children in Creative Curriculum classrooms is the recently released FACES 2000 findings. (FACES 2000 is a national longitudinal study of Head Start that examines children's cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development; family characteristics, well-being, and accomplishments; classroom quality; and teacher and staff characteristics, needs, and opinions.) Third-party researchers conducting FACES 2000 found that children in Creative Curriculum classrooms had greater improvements across a number of measures than children in classrooms that did not use an integrated approach. The most notable gains were in children's language scores. Additionally, FACES 2000 researchers found that Creative Curriculum classrooms had higher scores on general classroom quality as measured through the ECERS-R than other non-integrated models.

The Creative Curriculum continues to be studied by other nationally recognized researchers. Dr. Richard Lambert and Dr. Martha Abbott-Shim are conducting a random-assignment study of Head Start programs in Georgia and North Carolina and Dr. Dale Farran is conducting a random-assignment study of Tennessee programs as part of the Department of Education sponsored Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research study. David Connell is using a random-assignment design in the state of Oklahoma in preschool, infant-toddler, and family child care programs.

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