June 2018 Awards

Principal Investigator: Michael Ryan Betz
Project Dates: 6/13/18-11/1/18
Anticipated Total Award Amount: $34,500
Project Sponsor: USDA Rural Development

Economic impact of opioid misuse in six states: Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia

Abstract: The United States is experiencing an unprecedented rise in fatal and nonfatal drug overdoses stemming mainly from prescription opioids, heroin, and synthetic opioids (fentanyl and its analogs). Twelve and a half million Americans reported misusing prescription opioids and 78 people died per day from opioid overdoses in 2016 (USDHHS 2017). Recently the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors estimated the national cost of the opioid crisis to be upward of 504 billion in 2015 (WHCEA 2017). The number of opioid deaths nearly doubled in 2016 and is expected to rise again in 2017, placing reasonable estimates north of $1 trillion annually in the United States. However, the opioid misuse is unevenly distributed across the country. Appalachian states like West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania have overdose rates several times the national average. The study will focus on estimating costs of the opioid crisis for six states in the Appalachian region that are among the most heavily impacted in the United States: Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.


Principal Investigator: Jaclyn Marie Dynia
Project Dates: 5/22/18-9/30/20
Anticipated Total Award Amount: $1,161,233
Project Sponsor: Ohio Department of Education

Striving readers comprehensive literacy subgrant: Utilizing high-quality PD to increase children’s language, literacy, and emergent writing

Principal Investigator: Laura Justice
Project Dates: 7/1/18-6/30/22
Anticipated Total Award Amount: $3,299,995
Project Sponsor: US Department of Education

Causal Effects of the Kindergarten Transition Intervention

This proposal titled Causal Effects of the Kindergarten Transition Intervention is revised and resubmitted to the Education Research Grants Competition (CFDA 84.305A) for a Goal Three Efficacy Trial, Topic 2 (Early Learning Programs and Policies). This randomized controlled trial (RCT) will determine the causal impacts of a published intervention designed to promote young children’s successful transition to kindergarten. Our team will implement a menu of kindergarten transition practices manualized in Successful Kindergarten Transition (Pianta & Kraft-Sayre, 2003) in a random-assignment study involving 100 early childhood education (ECE) classrooms and 1000 children and families sampled from these classrooms. The primary aim is to examine impacts of the Kindergarten Transition Intervention on children’s academic and social-behavioral development during preschool, their adjustment to kindergarten, and their trajectories from preschool to the end of first grade. The Kindergarten Transition Intervention involves implementing 24 specific practices designed to build connections among families and schools; these practices are implemented by a Transition Coordinator and the child’s ECE teacher, and transcend the preschool year through fall of kindergarten. The primary mechanisms through which the intervention affects children’s kindergarten transition are the development and strengthening of connections between families and schools, children and teachers, children and peers, and family and community. Although the intervention is fully manualized (Pianta & Kraft-Sayre, 2003), and use of kindergarten transition practices are prominent in federal and state policies (e.g., 2007 re-authorization of Head Start; Ohio’s quality improvement rating system), there has yet to be a causally interpretable study of the effects of transition practices on children’s early learning development and trajectories.

The proposed research uses a multilevel RCT utilizing a basic 2-group (intervention vs control) design, with blocked random assignment, to estimate the impact of the Kindergarten Transition Intervention on teacher, family, and child outcomes with maximum power. The study will utilize 2 sequential cohorts of teachers and children involving a total of 100 early childhood teachers and 1,000 children sampled from their classrooms. With random assignment at the classroom level, children and families assigned to the intervention condition will experience 24 transition practices implemented by Transition Coordinators and the ECE teacher. Children will participate during their teachers’ implementation year and be followed through the end of first grade. Control classrooms will implement their prevailing practices to serve as a counterfactual. Classrooms will be drawn from multiple organizations across Ohio that self-select to serve as partners in this study, including school districts and educational service centers.

Outcomes of interest include the connections that are theorized to serve as mediators of the Kindergarten Transition Intervention, including family-school and teacher-child relationships, which are compared for teachers, families, and children in the intervention versus control classrooms. In addition, child outcomes are measured across the duration of involvement, including academic and social-behavioral development and kindergarten adjustment. Hierarchical linear models (HLM; Raudenbush & Bryk, 2002) with children nested within classrooms will be used to compare the relative impacts of the Kindergarten Transition Intervention versus control condition at multiple junctures, including end of the preschool year, kindergarten entry, and end of first grade. The results of this work, if impacts on children are as hypothesized, with provide ECE teachers an important tool for easing young children’s transition to and success in formal schooling; also, it will provide policy-makers and administrators evidence-based guidance for their advocacy of kindergarten-transition practices.

Principal Investigator: Laura Justice
Project Dates: 6/14/18-4/26/19
Anticipated Total Award Amount: $21,000
Project Sponsor: PNC Foundation

Summer Success: Comprehensive kindergarten readiness camps

It is well recognized that children from low-income backgrounds are not as prepared for formal schooling as their peers from high-income backgrounds. Furthermore, research evidence shows that children from low-income backgrounds have underdeveloped literacy and social skills compared to their peers at school entry. This disparity in kindergarten readiness skills may persist over the years, resulting in an “achievement gap” between children from low-income and high-income backgrounds. In part, this achievement gap may be explained by the considerable variability in children’s prekindergarten education experiences and in parental involvement in children’s cognitive and social development.

Prekindergarten education programs, such as the Chicago Parent-Child Centers, the Abecedarian Project, and Head Start have attempted to address this achievement gap. However, not all families from low-income backgrounds can take full advantage of such programs due to limited available slots and high rates of residential mobility associated with living in poverty. Additionally, few programs operate during the summer months, an optimal period of time immediately preceding children’s transition to kindergarten.

In response, the Schoenbaum Family Center (SFC) and the Crane Center for Early Childhood Research and Policy (CCEC), together with community partners, developed Summer Success: A Comprehensive Kindergarten Readiness Camp for children residing in a mixed-income, urban neighborhood, that prioritized recruitment among children with limited early childhood education experience. Summer Success was designed to bridge research and practice within the community by developing, implementing, and evaluating an innovative, comprehensive kindergarten readiness program within the Weinland Park community, delivered to 4-year-old children in the summer prior to kindergarten entry. The program’s impact will be in the developing and testing of an approach to improving kindergarten readiness that can be employed across Columbus.

Summer Success’ approach to improving children’s kindergarten readiness skills was to target a wide range of academic and non-academic domains that researchers, educators, and parents consider important for a successful transition to kindergarten. Children’s kindergarten readiness includes the “social, political, organizational, educational, and personal resources that support children’s success at school entry,” rather than simply their academic and social skills. Thus, Summer Success emphasized the importance of community resources, parental influences, and a wide range of child-level skills in four domains critical to kindergarten readiness: (1) language and literacy, (2) math, (3) social-emotional, and (4) motor skills, while encouraging and facilitating opportunities for hands-on learning and creative expression.