LBJ School of Public Affairs masters students have opportunities to develop their research and policymaking skills in the real world through a cornerstone class called the Policy Research Project (PRP).
Over the past year, students of CHASP director Dr. Cynthia Osborne worked on a PRP project on evaluating the impact of pre-Kindergarten for 3 year olds (Pre-K3) with the Child and Family Research Partnership (CFRP), the Austin Independent School District (AISD), and United Way for Greater Austin. The class was part of CFRP’s larger Pre-K3 project, the first evaluation in the nation that will determine whether children who experience two years of public pre-K (at ages 3 and 4) are better prepared for Kindergarten than their counterparts who experience pre-K only at age 4.
AISD, located in the LBJ School of Public Affairs’ hometown, is one of the first large school districts in the nation to offer public pre-K to 3-year-olds. The AISD Pre-K3 program is a voluntary, half-day program that instructs eligible students in English and in Spanish and currently serves 27 district schools. The district’s hope is that starting children one year earlier will chip away at the disparity in performance among students of different socioeconomic statuses, closing the achievement gap and allowing students to start Kindergarten on an even playing field.
The Child and Family Research Partnership is leading the evaluation to help the district assess the impact and successes of the program. For the class, PRP students were trained and then met individually with participating Pre-K3 students and administered two sets of tests, the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) for English-speaking children and the Test de Vocabulario en Imágenes Peabody (TVIP) for Spanish-speaking children. During the year-long project, the PRP students learned invaluable lessons including the ins and outs of program evaluation, data collection and security, and data analysis.
For more about the Child and Family Research Partnership Pre-K3 evaluation and work on pre-Kindergarten, go to http://childandfamilyresearch.org/research/eci-prek.
Members of the 2016-2017 Pre-K3 PRP with Dr. Cynthia Osborne: Erick Alvarez Gil, Emily Bresnahan, Juan Cardozo-Oquendo, Carlo Castillo (Teaching Assistant), Bailey Gray, Margaret Hennessy, Dana Johnson, Paige Menking, Sonia Pace, Erika Parks, Elizabeth Petruy, Ann-Charlotte Proffitt, and Nawal Traish. (Photo: Paige Menking)