CASTL Research Briefs

CASTL research briefs are summaries of recent published findings associated with CASTL, and written for education professionals and the general public.

To learn more about the study or findings described in a specific research brief, please contact us at Manuscript reference(s) are available in each brief.

  • Research Briefs About Finding Published in 2016-2017

    Improving Teacher-Child Conversations in Preschool Classrooms: Effects on Teachers and Children
    Preschool teachers received training on ways to promote children’s language development. Researchers then compared their use of these new language-facilitation strategies with teachers receiving no training on this topic. They also measured children’s language skills to see if the training made a difference.

  • Research Briefs About Finding Published in 2015-2016

    The Relationship Between Motor, Social, and Cognitive Skills Among Pre-Kindergarten Children with Developmental Disabilities
    This study examined how fine and gross motor skills, cognitive skills, and social skills were related among preschool children with various developmental disabilities. For children with intellectual disability and specific learning disorder, fine motor skills were associated with cognitive skills, though these skills were less related for children with other disability types. Gross motor skills were not related to cognitive or social skills for any of the disability groups.

    A Rasch Analysis of the KeyMath-3 Diagnostic Assessment
    The KeyMath-3 Diagnostic Assessment (Connolly, 2008)1 is a widely used assessment of children’s mathematical abilities. In this study, we assessed the psychometric properties of this measure at the item level with a diverse sample of 308 young children ages 5-8 years old. Results suggest that the Foundational Concepts subscale of this assessment is a good measure of children’s understanding of basic mathematical concepts; however, there are some caveats.

    Study of Over 30,00 K-8th Graders Shows Steepest Learning Occurs Before 3rd Grade
    This study used two large-scale data sets, representing over 30,000 children, to examine the shape of U. S. students’ growth in reading and mathematics from kindergarten through eighth grade. This study found that a specific shape of non-linear growth—an S-shaped Gompertz curve that has been used to describe growth in biological and social phenomena—also characterizes achievement growth.

    What Predicts How Well Teachers Implement Banking Time with Disruptive Preschoolers? 
    This study examined the implementation of a teacher-child intervention, Banking Time, with 59 preschool teachers and children with disruptive behavior. Implementation quality was assessed with regard to dosage, quality, and generalized practice. Additionally, program and teacher characteristics were examined to better understand what predicted intervention implementation.

    Assessing Preschoolers’ Disruptive Behavior: Associations Among Teachers, TAs, and an Impartial Observer
    This study examined associations among Teachers, TAs, and Observational ratings of children’s disruptive behavior. Alignment between Teachers and TAs did not predict observational measures above a single teacher’s ratings. Teachers and TAs were equally aligned with observational measures, except for ratings of oppositionality. Findings point to the importance of a multi-method assessment that gathers information from various sources, including TAs.

    Conflict With Friends, Relationship Blindness, and the Pathway to Adult Disagreeableness
    The ability to form and maintain relationships with friends and romantic partners is a major developmental task for adolescents. Disagreeable youth are likely to struggle with this task, yet little is known about how they maintain their oppositional style from adolescence to adulthood. This study examines the long-term implications of disagreeableness in a diverse sample of 164 adolescents assessed repeatedly across a 10-year period along with their friends and romantic partners. 

  • Research Briefs About Findings Published in 2013-2014

    Psychometric Properties of the Teacher-Reported Motor Skills Rating Scale
    This study provided further validation for the Motor Skills Rating Scale (MSRS), a questionnaire for early elementary teachers about children’s fine motor skills. The three subscales of the MSRS -- Shapes and Letters, Classroom Fine Motor, and Body Awareness -- were differentially associated with children’s academic outcomes. The strongest results were for the Classroom Fine Motor subscale, which requires visuo-spatial and attention skills. Results suggest that teachers are able to perceive subtle differences in their students’ fine motor skills, that their perceptions are associated with children’s measured performance, and that perceptions of visuo-spatial and attention skills are particularly important.

    Teaching Through Interactions in Secondary Classrooms: Revisiting the Classroom Assessment Scoring System
    This study used four diverse samples of middle and high school classrooms in the first comprehensive study of the CLASS-Secondary factor structure. Results confirmed the importance of approaching classroom interactions in secondary classrooms as having a 3-factor structure including emotional, organizational, and instructional domains. The implications of this structure for researchers, teachers, and policy stakeholders are discussed.

    Teachers' Supports and Children's Engagement: Testing for Bidirectional Associations
    Our recent study examined links between teachers’ supports for learning and children’s engagement over the course of a typical preschool day.  Two aspects of teachers’ behaviors were explored: emotional and organizational supports. Four aspects of children’s engagement were examined: positive engagement with teachers, peers, and tasks, as well as negative engagement. We found teacher-provided  supports were related to children’s  engagement later in the school day. In two instances, there was a bidirectional relationship in which children’s behaviors influenced teachers’ later provision of emotional and organizational supports.

    Broad Exposure to Mathematics Content Matters More for Students in Racially Diverse Classrooms (PDF)
    This study examines whether exposure to mathematics content differentially contributes to mathematics achievement in fifth grade depending on the racial composition of the students in the classroom. The study found that as exposure to more diverse content increases, the racial mathematics achievement gap in the classroom narrows, suggesting that increasing opportunities to learn broad mathematics content for students in racially diverse classrooms may be beneficial. 

    The Influence of Implementation of the Responsive Classroom Approach on Teacher-Student Interaction Quality (PDF)
    The study examined the direct and indirect effects of training in the Responsive Classroom® (RC) approach. Teachers that received RC training had higher levels of implementation of RC practices in their classrooms and, in turn, had higher quality teacher-student interactions compared to teachers not trained in the RC approach.

    Does Emotional Support and Classroom Organization Early in the Year Lead to Higher Quality Instruction? (PDF)
    This study examined whether teachers’ provision of emotional support and organizational support earlier in the year related to improved instruction later in the year. Results indicated a positive association between earlier emotional support and later instructional support.

    Children's Engagement in Preschool and the Development of Self-Regulation (PDF)
    This study examined the way children's engagement with teachers, peers, and tasks in preschool was related to gains in self-regulation skills. Results indicate that combinations of children's engagement with teachers, peers, and/or tasks was related to their development of self-regulation skills.

    The Responsive Classroom Approach Increases the Use of Standards-Based Mathematics Teaching Practices (PDF)
    This study examines the impact of the Responsive Classroom® (RC) Approach on the use of standards-based mathematics teaching practices in third grade classrooms. Results show that RC teachers showed higher use of these standards-based mathematics teaching practices than non-RC teachers.

    Teachers' Emotional Consistency Matters for Preschool Children (PDF)
    This study examined teachers’ emotional support in classrooms and how it relates to children's outcomes in preschool and kindergarten. Findings suggest that more consistent emotional support was related to better academic and social outcomes, emphasizing the potentially important role of consistency in children’s school experiences.

    Bullies, Victims, and Disliking: The Feeling is Mutual (PDF)
    This study uniquely examined some commonly held beliefs relating to bullying, victimization, and disliking in adolescence. Findings suggest that victims of bullying are not disliked by most peers, but rather strongly disliked by those who identify as a bully. Implications are discussed relating to interventions that may help victims of bullying.

    Does Special Education Improve Preschoolers’ Academic Skills? (PDF)
    This study investigated associations between enrollment in preschool special education and school readiness skills for children with mild to moderate delays. Findings indicated that on average, children who received preschool special education services had lower scores in reading and math in kindergarten than similar children who did not received such service. These results could be due to a range of factors that should be explored further, including the nature of special education services for young children as well as possible differences between the groups of children with and without special education experiences.

    Comparing Universal and Targeted Pre-Kindergarten Programs (PDF)
    This study compared universal (available to all children) and targeted (offered only to children with specific risk factors) Pre-Kindergarten programs. Results showed that two aspects of structural quality (e.g., hours per day and teacher education) were higher in universal programs, but process quality (e.g., child interactions and feedback) was higher in targeted programs. Children’s achievement was not different across programs.

    Influences on Implementation of the Responsive Classroom Approach (PDF)
    Researchers asked teachers about the factors that influenced their level of adherence to the Responsive Classroom approach and then had teachers, principals, and intervention coaches rate each principal’s “buy-in” to the approach. The coaches’ ratings of principal buy-in were most related to the observed practice of the teachers.

  • Research Briefs About Findings Published in 2012

    Instruction in Spanish and Outcomes for Pre-Kindergarten English Language Learners (PDF)
    This study examined associations between classroom quality, amount of instruction in Spanish, and academic learning of Spanish-speaking 4 years-olds. Findings suggest that gains in reading and math were larger when children received more instruction in Spanish in classrooms with more responsive and sensitive teachers. It is possible that instruction in Spanish in high-quality classrooms may enhance the academic skills for children with limited English.

    Predicting Acceptance of Diversity in Pre-Kindergarten Classrooms (PDF)
    Given the increasing ethnic and language diversity within the United States, this study examined practices that acknowledge and promote diversity in pre-Kindergarten classrooms. Findings indicate that acceptance of diversity is a component of positive environments for young children, particularly in classrooms with high poverty levels where there is ethnic and linguistic diversity.

    Preliminary Validation of the Motor Skills Rating Scale (PDF)
    This study developed the Motor Skills Rating Scale (MSRS), a brief questionnaire for early elementary teachers about children’s motor skills. Three subscales – Shapes and Letters, Classroom Fine Motor, and Body Awareness – were positively associated with children’s cognitive processes and mathematics achievement. Children with higher ratings on the Classroom Fine Motor subscale had higher levels of mathematics achievement.

    Fine Motor Skills and Executive Function Contribute to KG Achievement (PDF)
    This study examined the role of fine motor skills and executive function in early achievement in a sample of 213 middle-class kindergarteners. Controlling for executive function, children who had higher levels of fine motor skills, specifically the ability to copy a design, had higher achievement at kindergarten entry. Children with strong fine motor skills also improved more from fall to spring compared to kindergarteners with lower levels of fine motor skills.

    Large-Scale Rater Calibration for an Observational Instrument (PDF)
    Observational assessment is used to study program and teacher effectiveness across large numbers of classrooms, but training a workforce of raters who can assign reliable scores when observations are used in large-scale contexts can be challenging and expensive. This study reports on the success of rater calibration across 2,093 raters trained by the Office of Head Start on the Classroom Assessment Scoring System™.

    Long-Term Effects of Print Referencing on Literacy Achievement (PDF)
    In a randomized-controlled trial, researchers found that preschool teachers’ use of a print referencing approach to shared storybook reading had significant impacts on children’s early literacy skills (reading, spelling, and comprehension) one and two years after completion of the approach.

    Factors that Support Language and Literacy Resilience of Children in Head Start (PDF)
    This study examined the links between academic resilience in language and literacy and potential qualities of the child and the classroom environment that may protect preschoolers from the negative consequences of risk in the year before they enter formal schooling.

Research Briefs About...


Research briefs that present research findings from the National Center for Research on Early Childhood Education (NCRECE)

Review Briefs


Research briefs that present research findings from the myTeachingPartner (MTP) studies

Review Briefs


Research briefs that present research findings from the Classroom Assessment Scoring System

Review Briefs