ERIC Number: ED422104
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1998-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Restructuring Kindergarten in an Urban School District: The Case of Newark, New Jersey.
Kopacsi, Rosemarie; Hochwald, Eve
A collaborative project of Bank Street College and the Newark Public Schools, the New Beginnings initiative was designed to bring about progressive restructuring of kindergarten classrooms. This study used a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods to examine the impact of the initiative on curriculum, professional development, and student outcomes in its first year. Participating were 16 kindergarten teachers and their students from 16 schools. Bank Street staff acted as mentors to participating teachers. Other learning experiences included visits to model classes and workshops. The multicultural curriculum for the students was organized in integrated thematic units, with classrooms organized as learning environments around nonpermanent learning centers. Teachers participated in focus groups and completed surveys regarding program impact. Findings indicated that New Beginnings students exhibited greater autonomy and ownership of their learning, were better able to work independently and in groups, and developed skills which enabled them to negotiate and resolve peer conflict. Findings also showed statistically significant gains on standardized reading and math tests compared to a control group. The collaborative mentoring model worked well for teachers with different teaching philosophies, methodological approaches, and teaching styles, and for students with varied abilities and developmental readiness. Teachers adapted their roles and teaching styles, and learned new ways to allow children to participate more fully in classroom routines. Although activity centers and child-centered learning were widely adopted, the theme-based social studies curriculum was unevenly implemented. Conflicts and constraints experienced with the new approaches included problematic styles of classroom management and organization. (KB)
Descriptors: Academic Achievement, Active Learning, Comparative Analysis, Conflict Resolution, Educational Change, Elementary School Curriculum, Interpersonal Competence, Kindergarten, Kindergarten Children, Learning Centers (Classroom), Models, Preschool Teachers, Primary Education, Professional Development, Program Effectiveness, Program Evaluation, School Readiness, School Restructuring, Student Evaluation, Teacher Behavior, Teacher Student Relationship, Teaching Methods, Thematic Approach, Urban Schools
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Newark Board of Education, NJ. Office of Planning, Evaluation and Testing.