Early childhood teachers at The Primary School in East Palo Alto, Calif. used LENA Grow professional development to better understand and improve interactions in their classrooms.
The school launched LENA Grow during the 2019-2020 school year in three preschool classrooms with about 40 three- and four-year-olds in response to an identified language need among students. At the end of the program, 73% of students demonstrated growth in their expressive vocabulary and 70% of students made growth in their receptive vocabulary.
The language environment in the classroom changed measurably, too. Overall, rooms scored higher on the CLASS PK assessment at the end of the program, seeing on average a 42% increase in Concept Development, a 39% increase in Quality of Feedback, and a 25% increase in Language Modeling. Classrooms that used LENA Grow saw greater gains in the Concept Development and Quality of Feedback domains than rooms that did not use the program.
When asked about the change in CLASS scores, teacher Jessica Pablo explained, “LENA Grow and CLASS merge well together. It came together beautifully. LENA backed up that we weren’t talking enough. Then when it came time to identify strategies, our teaching teams brainstormed what tier two or three words we were going to use for the upcoming week. And then there were the different kinds of activities we could do to push further thinking and help the children to generate ideas that they were excited about. We would talk about the two together. What we achieved in our LENA scores was good practice that also helped us to elevate our CLASS scores, especially within the domain of instructional support.”
Overall, the teachers enjoyed participating in the LENA Grow pilot program and felt it provided meaningful information about their classroom instruction. The program and its strength based coaching sessions helped to increase their intentionality towards everyday language development, whether through talking, reading, singing, or waiting for students’ responses, they reported.
“The most helpful information was the data from before to the current week. It was helpful to see who I was talking to enough and who I wasn’t talking to enough and who I was talking to too much,” Pablo said. “My coach ended our conversations by talking about what I am capable of doing and what I am up to doing next time. Having someone check in every week helped us. It helped knowing that it was every week.”
About The Primary School
The Primary School is creating a new school model that brings together all of the adults in a child’s life, including parents, educators, and medical and mental health providers, starting from a very early age. This multidisciplinary approach helps close the achievement gap, ensuring that children and families most impacted by systemic poverty and racism receive the support they deserve to be well, learn, and thrive. They currently operate two program sites: one in East Palo Alto, CA, and one in Hayward, CA.