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What Works Posts Two New Curriculum Reviews

The federal What Works Clearinghouse posted a couple of new reports yesterday: one on a preschool program called the Creative Curriculum and another updating the research on Success for All.

Let's start with the good news. Success for All, as most of you probably know, is a widely used schoolwide improvement program aimed at students in prekindergarten through 8th grade. Clearinghouse analysts reviewed the evidence for Success for All once before, in 2006, but this newer report incorporates findings from studies completed since then, as well as a reanalysis of one earlier study. Based on that research, the report concludes, SFA has "positive" effects for teaching beginning readers alphabetics, "mixed" effects for its effectiveness at teaching comprehension, and "potentially positive" effects for improving students' general reading achievement. That rating is not much different from the evaluation that Success for All got the last time around but, by What Works' tough standards, it's practically glowing.

The news was not so good, though, for the Creative Curriculum for Preschool, a project-based program that aims to nurture the development of the "whole child." Based on the three studies involving 844 kids, the clearinghouse concluded that the program yields "no discernible effects" for improving young children's oral language, print knowledge, processing of phonemes (the sounds that make up words), or math skills. The report offered no judgments on the nonacademic skills that whole-child programs are also meant to nurture.

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