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Two Preschool Curricula Have No Discernible Effects, Review Says

Studies of the Creative Curriculum (fourth edition), and Bright Beginnings, two well-known early-learning programs, show no discernible effects on oral language, print language, phonological processing or math for preschool children, according to a federal review.

The What Works Clearinghouse, which works under the auspices of the Institute of Education Sciences, identified two of 14 studies of the Creative Curriculum that met its evidence standards. The fourth edition of the program is no longer being sold by the developer; it has since been replaced by an updated and expanded fifth edition, which the What Works Clearinghouse did not evaluate. The studies that met WWC standards examined 364 children in 11 preschool classrooms in Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

The clearinghouse identified one out of six studies of Bright Beginnings that met evidence standards; that report examined results in 198 preschool students in Tennessee. Bright Beginnings is based in part on the Creative Curriculum, with extra attention paid to early language and literacy skills. Developed by Eric J. Smith during his time as the superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools (he later went on to become the Florida commissioner of education) the program is not currently in use, the clearinghouse found. Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools currently have a similarly-named preschool program that does not use this curriculum.

The clearinghouse has a search engine that allows users to find curricula and interventions that have been found to be effective. Some of the several early-learning classroom programs that have been found to be effective are Doors to Discovery, a literacy program, and Building Blocks for Math, which uses software, manipulatives and print material.

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