During the 2018-2019 school year, Fort Worth Independent School District implemented LENA Grow in four early learning classrooms to help ensure the district’s youngest students were receiving high-quality language development support. The district serves 86,000 students in Fort Worth, Texas.
Classrooms that used LENA Grow, an experiential professional development program for early childhood teachers, increased scores in key CLASS domains compared to classrooms that did not use the program, a pre-post evaluation shows.
LENA Grow uses strengths-based coaching and regular feedback from LENA technology to help teachers increase classroom quality by boosting back and forth interactions with children. Teachers who participated in the program increased the amount of Conceptual Development, Quality Feedback and Language Modeling in their classrooms as measured by CLASS, an evaluation tool that assesses classroom quality.
The pre-post percent change for teachers using LENA Grow was 47% in the Quality Feedback dimension while non-LENA teachers saw only a 5% increase. Similarly, LENA Grow teachers saw an average increase of 29% in the Language Modeling dimension while non-LENA teachers showed only a 4% increase.
“Because the LENA Grow reports provided instant results that teachers could see, they gained more of an understanding of some of the CLASS dimensions and indicators,” said Lisa Austin, a coach who worked with teachers during the program. “So teachers gained a better understanding of what a high-quality, interactive classroom looks like.”
Quality Feedback and Language Modeling are two of the most difficult dimensions for preschool teachers to increase CLASS scores on, Austin said, and tend to be where early childhood teachers score the lowest. Since LENA Grow reports show the amount of adult words and conversational turns each child experienced per hour, teachers were able to identify and target very specific changes in their classrooms, which supported the increase in scores.
“The reports were a real benefit, because it wasn’t just me telling the teachers what their results were, they could see for themselves and identify their areas of growth. It made my job much easier in regard to coaching in those areas,” Austin said.
As teachers worked with the LENA data from week to week, they identified trends and set actionable goals.
“Teachers could see in the data how a lot of their day had been spent doing teacher-directed instruction and not really following the children’s lead,” Austin said. “The classrooms using LENA Grow became much more child-centered than some of the other classrooms that didn’t use the program.”
The Fort Worth Children’s Partnership, which is implementing the program with grant support from Rainwater Charitable Foundation, hopes to pilot LENA Grow in Pre-K 4 classrooms in the fall and explore additional opportunities for expansion.