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Education Next features Marianne Bitler's research on the role of alternative curricula for young children's school readiness.

In an article informing the current pre-K curriculum debate the Education Next featured Professor Marianne Bitler’s recent work on the benefits of academic focused curricula relative to the widely used “whole-child” curricula.  

Marianne and her coauthors use experimental data to estimate impacts on school readiness of different kinds of preschool curricula – a largely neglected preschool input and measure of preschool quality. They find that the widely-used “whole-child” curricula found in most Head Start and pre-K classrooms produced higher classroom process quality than did locally-developed curricula, but failed to improve children's school readiness. A curriculum focused on building mathematics skills increased both classroom math activities and children's math achievement relative to the whole-child curricula. Similarly, curricula focused on literacy skills increased literacy achievement relative to whole-child curricula, despite failing to boost measured classroom process quality.

 The paper, entitled “Boosting school readiness: Should preschool   teachers target skills or the whole child?”, was recently published in   the  Economics of Education Review Journal in August 2018. The   paper is co-authored with Jade M. Jenkinsa, Greg J. Duncan,  Anamarie Auger, Thurston Domina and Margaret Burchinal.