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At-Risk Preschool Students Grow Faster Than Expected and Move Out of At-Risk Status

Published: January 07, 2015

In 2013-14, Oakland University organized a major study of GrapeSEED conducted across 22 preschool classrooms in Michigan. The 432 students that took the assessment were part of Michigan’s state-funded Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) for four year old at-risk children.

The testing measure used was the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (CELF). Students were evaluated in six key areas that determine language ability: phonological awareness, sentence structure, word structure, expressive vocabulary, recalling sentences, and recalling sentences in context.

This graph shows how the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) students compared to other students their age across the US.

Significant gains help students move out of at-risk status

The only way the assessments would show an increase is if students who were “at risk” or below their age norms caught up or accelerated their growth by Spring. In other words, if students' scores grew at the expected rate of their age norm peers in the US the line would be flat.

However, as evident from the graph, the percent of students at or above their age norm increased significantly from the Fall to Spring assessment. The difference between Fall and Spring is due entirely to the improvement of at-risk students since all students who were at or above their age norms in Fall maintained that status in the Spring.

To summarize, the GSRP students grew faster than expected for their age. The growth was significant in every area, and that means that it couldn’t happen by chance.

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