Montessori Public School Pre-K Programs and the School Readiness of Low-Income Black and Latino Children.J Educ Psychol 2014; 106(4):1066-1079JE
Within the United States, there are a variety of early education models and curricula aimed at promoting young children's pre-academic, social, and behavioral skills. This study, using data from the Miami School Readiness Project (MSRP; Winsler et al., 2008, 2012), examined the school readiness gains of low-income Latino (n = 7,045) and Black children (n = 6,700) enrolled in two different types of Title-1 public school pre-K programs: those in programs using the Montessori curricula and those in more conventional programs using the High/Scope curricula with a literacy supplement. Parents and teachers reported on children's socio-emotional and behavioral skills with the Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA), while children's pre-academic skills (cognitive, motor, and language) were assessed directly with the Learning Accomplishment Profile Diagnostic (LAP-D) at the beginning and end of their four-year-old pre-K year. All children, regardless of curricula, demonstrated gains across pre-academic, socio-emotional, and behavioral skills throughout the pre-K year; however, all children did not benefit equally from Montessori programs. Latino children in Montessori programs began the year at most risk in pre-academic and behavioral skills, yet exhibited the greatest gains across these domains and ended the year scoring above national averages. Conversely, Black children exhibited healthy gains in Montessori, but demonstrated slightly greater gains when attending more conventional pre-K programs. Findings have implications for tailoring early childhood education programs for Latino and Black children from low-income communities.