Holy Cross Ministries

Whitney Foundation Longitudinal Study



Holy Cross Ministries received funding from the Whitney Foundation from 2016 - 2017 to conduct a longitudinal study of the pre-school graduates of Holy Cross Ministries' School Readiness Program. The project, which Holy Cross conducted in partnership with The University of Utah's Department of Family and Consumer Studies, and research specialist Mark Innocenti, incorporated both quantitative and qualitative data on children in Park City and the impact of HCM's programs on their current academic success.


Holy Cross Ministries facilitated 123 semi structured interviews with parents of 133 low-income, Hispanic children. The study included an analysis of 112 records of academic data for these students. The participants were separated into three different cohorts:

  • Cohort 1: Children who participated in HCM's School Readiness Program between 2010 and 2013
  • Cohort 2: Children who participated in other other preschool programs between 2010 and 2013
  • Cohort 3: Children who did not participate in any preschool programs between 2010 and 2013


Click HERE to view the Whitney Foundation Longitudinal Study infographic.

Research Questions and Findings

Yes. Children who participated in HCM’s School Readiness Program scored significantly higher on the Kindergarten entrance screening exams compared to the children in the remaining two cohorts (those who attended a different preschool program or attended no preschool program). HCM also analyzed the Dynamic Indicators of Early Literacy (DIBELs) scores, a set of short instruments for assessing the acquisition of early literacy skills. Overall, students who attended any preschool had higher Kindergarten DIBELS scores than students from the same demographic who did not attend a preschool program. Based on the end of year 3rd grade DIBELS score results, we found that the majority of children who participated in HCM’s School Readiness Program scored at or above benchmark levels whereas the majority of children who attended no preschool scored below benchmark. Additionally, students who participated in any preschool program had higher SAGE math scores in 4th grade than students who did not attend a preschool program.
When looking at English language acquisition we found that children who attended HCM’s School Readiness Program were more likely to be designated as English Language Learners (ELL) (86%) compared to children who attend other preschool programs (63%). In fact, they were designated as ELL at a higher rate than children who attended no preschool programs (80%). We see this as a great opportunity for program improvement.
Greater parent participation has the potential to help children sustain gains acquired in preschool and improve long term academic outcomes. Regardless of whether students attended preschool or not, there was a strong correlation between parent involvement and their elementary school students' short term and long term academic success. High parent participation was connected to positive academic outcomes and low parent participate was connected to poor academic outcomes.

Help Support Our Students

Holy Cross Ministries works to ensure that all children have opportunities to succeed academically. We believe that cost should not be a barrier for children to start school ready to learn. Please help support our program so we can continue offering scholarships to low-income families. 

Next Steps


Continue providing the School Readiness Program.

HCM will continue providing the School Readiness Program to support long-term academic achievements of minority 3-year-old students.


Improve classroom language immersion.

HCM aims to make changes in support of additional language immersion and English learning opportunities for students in the School Readiness Program.



Expand the Parents as Teachers home-visiting component.

HCM aims to increase the number of parents served by expanding the number of staff providing evidence-based home-visiting services for parents with 0-5 year olds.


Develop an avenue to support parental involvement.

HCM aims to develop an effective and evidence-based parenting strategies toolkit and model for future implementation with parents of elementary-aged students.

Thank you to the Whitney Foundation for making this longitudinal study possible

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