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NORC at the University of Chicago Study, 2017-2021

A single year of SEEDS educator training results in up to 8 additional months of learning for children

In randomized controlled trials and quasi-experimental studies, all children participating in SEEDS acquired gains between 2 and 8 additional months of learning. ALL children, including multilingual learners and those experiencing educational and social inequity.
Data charts from NORC at the University of Chicago illustrate children's reading scores in vocabulary, letter sounds, letter names, alliteration and rhyming.
Researchers from NORC at the University of Chicago conducted a rigorous randomized control trial (RCT) with a diverse range of 1,200 students in preschools spread across the East San Francisco Bay area of California. The evaluation assessed the impact of the SEEDS model on early educators’ knowledge and practice over time, and their 4- and 5-year-old students’ oral language and early reading outcomes.  

A single year of SEEDS training was shown to produce statistically significant, positive improvement in student early reading skills.

When the SEEDS schools were compared to similar, randomly assigned control schools, the SEEDS schools had significantly higher early literacy student scores. When SEEDS was introduced to the comparison schools in the second year of the study, they saw significantly increased early literacy student scores (about three-quarters standard deviation impact).
Goals, Background, Design, and Sample

GOAL: Assess the Impact of the Model

The goal of the evaluation was to assess the impact of SEEDS of Learning™ (SEEDS) on early educators’ knowledge and practice over time, and their 4 and 5 year old students’ oral language and early reading outcomes. The study took place at Kidango preschool centers, a large early childhood care and education provider in the East San Francisco Bay. The present memo focuses on student outcomes.


SEEDS is an evidence-based Response to Intervention (RtI) professional development (PD) model that prepares early childhood educators to promote kindergarten readiness through development of children’s oral language, emergent-literacy, and social-emotional skills. NORC at the University of Chicago partnered with Kidango and the Kenneth Rainin Foundation to directly assess the impact of SEEDS on their four and five year old students’ oral language, and emergent-literacy outcomes.
The most recent findings show SEEDS participants had zero learning loss in the 2020-21 school year. All students grew in early literacy skills.


This study presents results from a single arm of a multi-year within-teacher randomized controlled trial study of the impact of SEEDS of Learning on students’ oral language and emergent literacy outcomes. These results reflect outcomes from a delayed-treatment, within-subjects design of the 13 randomly assigned control centers. During the 2017-2018 school year, teachers and their students were assessed in fall 2017 (pretest) and spring 2018 (post-test), in the prior to receiving SEEDS training. Teachers in these centers received SEEDS training the following school year (2018-2019). SEEDS’ impact was assessed yearly by collecting teacher and student outcome data in fall 2018 (pretest) and spring 2019 (posttest). Student outcome measures included scales from two assessments: the Individual Growth and Development Indicators (IGDI), which assesses fluency in vocabulary and phonological awareness (rhyming and alliteration), and the FastBridge assessment, which evaluated fluency in letter name identification and letter sound correspondence. Estimates of SEEDS’ impact were computed using hierarchical linear models of the IGDI and FastBridge skill scores, and marginal predictions thereof.

“Seeds is a comprehensive, effective early language and literacy program that has dramatically increased the language skills of the children we serve in pre-k.  The professional development and coaching bring to life the learning strategies in a way that is practical, clear, and meets teachers where they are.  Teachers and children found the Seeds strategies fun and engaging.  We have seen the interactions and relationships between teachers and children grow and become more meaningful.  Its continuous quality improvement system ensures consistent progress and inspires teachers to do better each day.  We are grateful for all SEEDS has done to improve our classroom practice and ensure our children learn the fundamental skills needed for language and literacy success.”

Scott Moore, Kidango CEO

More Data

2017-2021 Overview

University of Chicago NORC study of Kidango Preschools

Year 1
Baselines were set for a randomized controlled trial (RCT), the gold standard in social science

Year 2
Outcomes were compared to baselines from year 1

Year 3
Was postponed due to COVID

4 graphs showing, from left to right, picture names vocabulary, alliteration, letter sounds, rhyming

FluentSeeds model, SEEDS, had statistically significant effects in 4 out of 5 areas assessed with p-values at less than 5%. The cumulative benefit (weighted by margin of error) vs. the control group is equivalent to almost six months of learning, and it is important to highlight that this result was accomplished in just nine months (the period between fall and spring assessment).

Bigger effects in year 2 due to organizational learning and continued investment.

SEEDS group had significantly higher outcomes.

Compared to a range of well-known national studies we rank among the most impactful early literacy models in the country.