Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Leadership and Policies


Educational Administration

First Advisor

Diane Harwell


Educational leaders are charged with making informed decisions regarding various aspects of schooling that affect the overall achievement of students. Numerous legislative ideas, funding initiatives, programming standards, and practicing guidelines for early childhood education programs have been introduced (Buyssee & Wesley, 2006). Early care and education have become significant components of social policy due to the increase in the number of individuals in the workplace and the increasing roles of government in education and reform, as well as the continued concern for school readiness and achievement (Urban Institute, 2009). Americans often state that children are “our most precious natural resource” (Grubb, 1989, p. 358). History, however, has demonstrated that varying changes and restrictions in implementing early childhood education have occurred despite this belief system within the general population.

TheState of America's Children(Children's Defense Fund, 2010) reported that the early years are critical for child development and can be influenced by enrollment in high quality early childhood programs. In the United States, however, a child is born into poverty every 32 seconds, and decreased developmental progress often continues to widen the learning gap between them and their higher income peers. Several research studies have been conducted to measure the immediate and long—term effects of student participation in child development programs and were reviewed by the researcher.

This study examined the impact of early childhood education on the reading achievement of children, kindergarten through eighth grade, who participated in the Child Development (CD) program within Charleston County School District (CCSD) during the 2002—2003 school year. The participating students' achievement was determined by analyzing their performance on the Measures of Academic Performance (MAP) (Northwest Evaluation Association, 1997) assessment, which is conducted at pivotal points within a child's educational career. The treatment students' test results were compared to those of a matched group of students who did not participate in the CCSD Child Development program. The results indicated that the overall program type was an insignificant variable with regard to the MAP reading scores obtained for each sample set at the second, fifth, and eighth grade levels. Additional secondary research questions related to gender, ethnicity, and socio—economic status were further explored.