Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Elizabeth Minor

Second Advisor

Donald Angelaccio


The purpose of this study was to determine to what extent Kinder Hearts School’s at-risk preschoolers are effectively prepared with readiness skills for kindergarten academic success. Based on schoolwide assessments, program mandates, and policy changes, an evaluation of this specific program in a Midwest school could determine whether the instructional model used was indeed effective. This study consisted of analyzing data from three student categories: children who attended private preschool programming, children who attended the school’s at-risk program, and children who had no schooling. The data collected was used to determine professional development needed, grant funding allocation, and program delivery model to use.

The results of the study showed an academic difference in kindergarten between children who attended this school’s state-funded, play-based preschool at-risk program and children who attended private programming. Results did not suggest that children who attended the school’s at-risk preschool program were behind in their kindergarten readiness skills in comparison to other subgroups but did suggest a difference between the groups. This study indicated that a play-based model developmentally targets the whole child, and also leads to the overall developmental growth of the child.


This study is dedicated to my daughter, Kayla Elise. I hope that through my journey you learned a thing or two. Don’t let anything stop you from achieving your dreams!