Child developmental impact of pittsburgh's early childhood initiative (ECI) in high-risk communities: First-phase authentic evaluation research

Stephen J. Bagnato, Hoi K. Suen, Dale Brickley, Janell Smith-Jones, Ernie Dettore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


The national debate surrounding the issue of school failure has renewed interest in the quality, efficacy, and outcomes of early childhood intervention programs that can promote early school success for children at developmental risk. Moreover, researchers and policymakers report the need to document developmentally-appropriate models for assessing and evaluating early childhood outcomes.We report on the first-phase results of Pittsburgh's early childhood initiative (ECI). ECI is a privately-funded effort by a consortium composed of the business, corporate, foundation, and community sectors to implement high-quality early care and education options for children in high-risk neighborhoods. The overarching objective of ECI is to ensure early school success for high-risk children. Our Scaling Progress in Early Childhood Settings (SPECS) Evaluation Team implemented an authentic assessment and program evaluation strategy and an enhanced "constructed comparison group" statistical model to conduct longitudinal research on the child developmental impact of the ECI model. First-phase results on 155 high-risk children indicate that those who participated in high-quality ECI programs for the longest periods of time demonstrated patterns of progress that exceeded maturational expectations. Weekly collaborative consultation to teachers and caregivers by consultants about program quality using the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) standards as "best practice" benchmarks seemed to be associated with initial enhanced child outcomes and the particular impact of the ECI model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)559-580
Number of pages22
JournalEarly Childhood Research Quarterly
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2002


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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