The Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) and Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education embarked upon a five-year longitudinal study to evaluate the effects of the Arkansas Better Chance (ABC) State Pre-K program. DHS is working with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University to conduct the evaluation. ADE and DHS are interested in the effects of the ABC program on the language, literacy, mathematics, and social skills development of Arkansas children, and wish to measure the possible benefits of the program. ADE and DHS began conducting the study during the 2005-2006 school year. Children were randomly selected during the preschool or kindergarten year, and will be followed up and assessed each year in the spring, through the fourth grade year or through 2010.
It is possible that a number of 3rd and 4th grade children from each school district are part of the sample for the study. ADE and DHS wish to conduct follow-up assessments with the previously assessed children during the 2009-2010 school year. Trained staff from UAMS will accomplish the child assessments. If it is determined that children from a district are a part of this sample, superintendents and principals will be contacted regarding the scheduling of assessments. In the past a main concern of the study was being able to locate children when it was time to do the spring assessments. Therefore, please speak with principals about informing in-house administration about the importance of the study. ADE and DHS are also asking schools to work closely with Yvonne Bradshaw, the local project director from UAMS, on locating the children during the fall period by responding to enrollment inquiries about children in the sample. This is to assure data is collected from as many children as possible during the spring 2010 assessment period, which will take place from February through May of next year.
Please note that the Departments of Education and Human Services have been advised by the federal Institutional Review Board that it is not necessary to obtain parental consent forms to conduct the assessments because the testing does not exceed what children normally experience in school settings. Parents were previously given a chance to opt out of the study. The Department of Human Services and Department of Education is excited about the ongoing evaluation of Arkansasí preschool program. If any questions arise, please feel free to contact Jamie Morrison at 501-682-4891.