Adam Winsler's Web World

Language, Culture, Music, Self-Regulation, and School Readiness Lab

Sample Current Research Projects

The Effect of Subsidized Child Care and Public School Pre-K on the School Readiness and Long-Term Academic Outcomes of Diverse, Low-Income, Urban Preschoolers: The Miami School Readiness Project (MSRP)

This exciting large-scale, university-community partnership,program evaluation, and applied research project involves maintenance and development of the master database for all child-level, classroom-level, child care center-level, and family-level data involved in the Assessment-Intervention Program, sponsored by the Miami-Dade School Readiness Coalition with support from The Children's Trust. In this project, for 5 years (2012-2007), about 58,000 4-year old low-income children (approximately 60% Latino,30% African American, and 10% white/other) attending state-subsidized child care facilities (center-based, family daycares, informal care, and public school pre-k programs) were individually assessed (in English and Spanish) on their cognitive, language, and motor skills at the beginning (PRE) and end (POST) of the school year. Also, parents and teachers rate children's socio-emotional skills and behavior problems at PRE and POST. The children are still being followed longitudinally as they progress through high school in Miami-Dade County Public Schools with a wide variety of school records outcome data available through 12th grade.

Middle and High School Arts Electives Among Low-Income, Ethnically Diverse Students in Miami: Who Takes Them, for How Long, and What are the Academic Benefits?

Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), this exciting project is examining 1) child, family, and school predictors of low-income minority youth selecting arts elective courses in middle school, and 2) whether youth who take arts courses do better in school than those who do not, controlling for the selection factors identified in #1. Using data from the Miami School Readiness Project, about 32,000 children (60% Latino, 33% Black, 7% White/Other, 85% in poverty) are reaching 6th, 7th, or 8th grade and 20-25% of them are enrolling in some kind of arts elective course (i.e., band, orchestra, choir, drama, dance, art). Predictor variables include child gender, ethnicity, ELL and disability status, initial school readiness, 5th grade GPA and test scores; family size, marital status, maternal education, free lunch and immigrant status; and school size, quality, resources, and ethnic distribution. We will see if arts classes are linked with better outcomes for at-risk youth (GPA, test scores, attendance, retention, suspension, and drop out).

Two-Way (Spanish-English) Immersion Bilingual Education Classrooms: Language of Instruction, Student Engagement, Motivation, Student-Teacher Relationships, and Acacdemic and Language Outcomes for Students

This exciting 3-year project just funded by the Institute for Education Sciences (IES), is examining how the language of instruction used in two-way immersion programs (i.e., 50% Spanish 50% English, 80% English 20% Spanish) in North Carolina K-3rd grade classrooms matters for student learning, engagement and motivation in classrooms and their eventual English and Spanish languge outcomes. Also examined is whether DLL student initial language competence in Spanish and English moderate all of the above. This research is in collaboration with Drs. Doré LaForett and Ximena Franco at the FPG center at University of North Carolina.

Does the Immigrant Advantage Remain Stable Throughout Elementary School?

Mayra's masters thesis examined whether immigrant students are still doing better than native US-born students in terms of academic outcomes in third, fourth, and fifth grade. Using data from the MSRP, we are comparing the academic outcomes of immigrant students (first- or second-generation immigrants) to non-immigrant students (third-generation+). We are also examining the outcomes of students from different immigrant generations (first-generation compared to second-generation immigrant students). Additionally, we are asking whether immigrant advantage depends on country or origin and gender.

Degree of Bilingualism, Behavior Problems, Executive Functioning, and Private Speech Use

A group of 80 5- to 7-year-old children falling into three groups (monolingual English, bilingual English-Spanish, and Spanish speaking children still learing English) completed a battery of executive function tasks (go/no-go task (GNG), the Head-Toes-Knees-Shoulders task (HTKS), the Dimensional Change Card Sort (DCCS), the Simon task, and the Tower of London (TOL). Parents completed surveys on children’s language background, EF, and behavior problems. We are currently analyzing whether children's private speech in English and Spanish relate to their executive functioning and degree of bilingualism.

The Influence of Elementary School Quality on Differential Effects of Preschool Programs in Third Grade

This master's thesis uses the Miami School Readiness Project to address how elementary school quality impacts the third grade academic outcomes of children who attended three different types of preschool programs. Prior to kindergarten, children attended either public school pre-kindergarten (pre-K), center-based care (CBC), or family childcare (FCC). Third grade elementary school quality was determined by the "grade" (A-F) assigned to each school by their school district, and is based on the school's average FCAT scores and how they improved from one year to the next. Third grade academic outcomes to be investigated include FCAT math and reading scores, third grade GPA, and whether or not the child was retained in third grade. Research questions are: 1) Are there differences in the quality of the elementary schools that children go on to attend as a function of having been in FCC, CBC, or pre-K? 2) How are children who went to FCC, CBC, or pre-K programs performing academically in third grade? 3) Do the differences between the academic performance of children who attended FCC, CBC, or pre-K change as a function of elementary school quality? 4) Is there differential "fadeout"by child gender and ethnicity?

Outcomes Associated with Elementary School Mobility for Low-Income, Ethnically Diverse Children

Using data from the MSRP, we are examining the potential negative academic outcomes associated with switching schools betweek K and 5th grade, controlling for all the selection factors - the known ways in which students who do and do not switch schools are different initially before they move schools (poverty status, gender, ELL and disability status, school readiness and prior achievement, and pre-move school quality).

Who Gets In?: Selection into Advanced Courses among Low-Income, Ethnically Diverse Youth

This project uses MSRP data to look at who among low-income, ethnically diverse students are taking advanced, honors, Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses in middle school and high school. We are examining what selection factors are related to access in these courses with a specific emphasis on poverty and ethnicity. The major early childhood factors of interest are demographic factors (ethnicity, free and reduced lunch status, English language learner status, disability status), school readiness (cognitive, language, motor, social and behavioral skills at school entry), and prior competence (standardized test scores and GPA).

Catch Them While They're Young?: The Association between Early Grade Retention and Later Academic Outcomes

This master's thesis uses the MSRP to examine students' experiences with grade retention in elementary school. As states continue to implement and use mandatory retention policies in 3rd grade, schools are increasingly retaining students in earlier years (kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade) in the hopes of "protecting" students from later retention. However, with mixed findings among studies, research has yet to clearly determine whether early retention is indeed more beneficial to students' long-term outcomes compared to later retention. As such, this project will address the association between timing of retention in elementary school and later academic outcomes such as meeting grade-level benchmarks and whether retention timing is associated with subsequent retention in later grades.

Delayed Kindergarten Entry among Ethnically Diverse, Low-Income Students: Prevalence, Predictors, and Selection Patterns

This project uses MSRP data to examine the prevalence, predictors, and selection patterns of delayed kindergarten entry (commonly known as "academic redshirting") among low-income, ethnically diverse students. Current estimates suggest that approximately 3 to 7% of students delay kindergarten entry in the US, but these rates vary by region with low-income communities showing lower rates given the economic burden of academic redshirting. Recent research has begun examining different selection patterns into delayed entry: "negative selection" refers to students who show developmental delays, disabilities, or other concerns prior to kindergarten entry (which likely prompts the delayed entry), while "positive selection" refers to typically-developing students why may be held back in the hopes of gaining a competitive advantage over their peers. The goal of this project is to examine selection patterns into delayed kindergarten entry within the MSRP sample.

Longitudinal Follow-up of Ethnically Diverse Children with Autism: Predictors of Success Through 5th Grade

This master’s thesis reports the longitudinal academic outcomes of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who attended special education pre-K programs using data from the Miami School Readiness Project (MSRP). Currently, there are few long-term reports of children with ASD and their performance throughout elementary school. Moreover, current studies concerning ASD primarily focus on white children of middle to high socioeconomic status. This thesis will follow the progression of a primarily low- income and ethnically diverse sample of children from pre-K through 5th Grade. How school readiness assessments (cognitive, language, motor, behavioral, and social skills) given at age four are related to the performance of children at Grade 5 will also be explored along with potential ethnic differences (Black, Latino, White) in academic outcomes.

Executive Functioning, Language, and Obesity among Latino Children

Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, with ethnic minority children at highest risk. Obesity during childhood has been linked to many other related health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Research supports correlations between a child's executive functioning skills (i.e., inhibition, working memory, and cognitive flexibility) and his or her ability to refrain from engaging in weight gain behaviors as well as to initiate engagement in weight loss behaviors. Working within a large multi-disciplinary obesity intervention project (Project VALÉ) under the direction of Dr. Sina Gallo, Nutrition & Food Studies, we are exploring the relationship between executive functioning, language and weight among children of first-generation Latino immigrants.