This experiment has only one treatment, an on-site teacher training in real classrooms. This training has been designed and operated by the Reducing Inequality through Early Childhood Education (RIECE) program, which aims to improve early childhood education in rural Thailand. The main objective of the training is to enable the trainees to implement a HighScope-based curriculum, called RIECE curriculum, in their classrooms. The trainees/teachers would have to learn and practice with real students in early childhood classrooms of a childcare center in Kalasin province, which is one of training centers of the RIECE program. It is worthy of emphasis that this training is different from a usual on-the-job training, which is usually performed in the trainee's classroom, in that it is staged at a training center when the class is in session. Main reason for having the training at a training center instead of the trainee's classroom is that teachers, especially from rural Thailand, tend to imitate what they have seen and experienced during the training rather than capture key principles and learn how to apply them in their own classrooms. That is also a reason for why a training center must have a sufficiently high quality.
This is an intensive and hands-on training, which is for two weeks (10 school days). The main task for the first three days is to observe all classroom activities and student behaviors. The rest is for trainees to practice implementing all key activities and producing learning materials. In addition, there will be a review session every afternoon, where the trainees and their supervisors will reflect and discuss on how well each trainee has performed each activities during the day. This session also introduces relevant theoretical concepts and discuss their connection with daily experiences of the trainees. See online appendix for a summary of training schedule. Note that the intensiveness of the training limits the training capacity. As a result, treated teachers will be trained in three separate groups at different points in time.
This experiment is implemented in Ubon Ratchathani province, located in the northeastren part of Thailand. The research team recruited sub-districts to participate in the srudy by collaborating with Ubon Ratchathani provincial health office, which has been instrumental in promoting child development in the area. There were 56 chilcare centers initially particiapting in the study but 4 of them declined the baseline survey. Therefore, the final number of participating centers is 52 centers.
We then form a pair of childcare centers based on the location. This is to comply with the request from the provincial health office in that each district (consisting of several sub-districts) should have at least one childcare center in the treatment group. Another reason is to control for local factors that may contribute to child development. In the end, there are 26 centers in the control and 26 in the treatment.
Most of the centers have two levels of classes, one for 2 to 3 years old, and the other for 3 to 4 years old. This experiment focuses on the older classroom, the one for 3 to 4 years old. Given the limited capacity of the on-site training, we first invited teachers who taught the older class to the training first. Consequently, the majority of the sample, therefore, are students in the older classrooms except for some centers where the number of older students are too few.