Date of Award

Fall 8-5-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Shelly Fransen

Second Advisor

Dr. Kathy Grover

Third Advisor

Dr. Sherry DeVore


National policymakers, practitioners, and researchers have consistently questioned how to develop the necessary skills for the nation’s youth to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The answer points directly to the provision of highquality early childhood programs to prepare children for entrance to kindergarten and put them on a trajectory toward lifelong positive outcomes (Ferrarello, 2017; Phillips et al., 2017). The Missouri Preschool Program is a high-quality, state grant-funded program, with grant priority given to schools serving a large number of disadvantaged children (MODESE, 2018a). The purpose of this quantitative causal-comparative study was to compare the school readiness skills of four-year-old children who participated in a Missouri Preschool Program to the school readiness skills of their peers who did not participate in a Missouri Preschool Program as measured by the Developmental Indicators for the Assessment of Learning Fourth Edition (DIAL-4) instrument in the five domains of school readiness. A two-tailed t-test was performed on de-identified secondary data sets collected from two school districts in southwest Missouri. With the level of significance set at α = .05, the results indicated the mean scores of the Missouri Preschool Program participants were significantly higher than the non-Missouri Preschool Program participants in each of the skill domains of motor, concepts, language, self-help, and social-emotional. These findings are consistent with the mounting evidence of researchers who have documented the value of quality early childhood programs not only for promoting school readiness but for providing long-lasting positive effects, especially for economically disadvantaged children (Bakken, Brown, & Dowling, 2017; Ferguson, 2018).


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