SPARK Ohio

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Abstract

While early intervention programs are designed to address the needs of vulnerable children from the ages of three to five, SPARK Ohio uses a home visitation model designed to prepare children, in cooperation with their parents/caregivers, to transition from home to school academically, physically, and socio-emotionally (e.g., interacting with others). Using cross-sectional data from the Ohio Education Management Information System, multiple regression models estimated the influence of SPARK on Ohio’s kindergarten readiness scores (2012) with variables of interest, including SPARK Ohio and preschool participation. For children entering kindergarten in 2012, 578 participated in the early intervention SPARK Ohio program with families recruited from six counties, twelve districts, and twenty-nine schools across Ohio. After controlling for demographic, socioeconomic, and community-level variables, program participants demonstrated statistically significant higher readiness scores for kindergarten literacy relative to their non-SPARK Ohio peers. Readiness was moderated by preschool attendance, with program participants who also attended preschool having the greatest levels of readiness. By using student-level data, we are able to isolate and estimate treatment effects between comparable groups: SPARK Ohio participants and non-participants. This study provides practitioners with empirical results when investigating or proposing early childhood intervention programs and serves as a basic methodological model for early childhood intervention researchers. This study describes an early intervention experience aligned with kindergarten preparation standards that actively engage parents in the learning experience. Participants demonstrated significantly higher kindergarten readiness assessment scores compared to non-participants.