New FSU Study to Examine Preschool Education


Florida State University recently received a $1,000,000 Lyle Spencer Research Award to improve the quality of education in preschool classrooms.

Florida State Associate Professors Drs. Beth Phillips and Carla Wood will lead an interdisciplinary team to investigate key characteristics of children’s language development in preschool classrooms. The three-year study, funded by The Spencer Foundation, will identify the predictors, associations, and valid measurement of language environments in preschool classrooms serving children at high risk because of poverty and low parental education. Drs. Phillips and Wood will partner with 100 preschools throughout the southeast to investigate the crucial role of teachers in developing children’s language skills.

“The relevance of this study is tremendous,” stated Dr. Phillips. “Some teachers are likely not influencing children’s language development sufficiently to close the skill gap for high-risk children. The goal of this study is to contribute to evidence-based strategies that can inform instruction and lead to improved learning outcomes.”

The Florida State team combines expertise and resources from the Florida Center for Reading Research, School of Communication Science & Disorders, and the College of Education. “This study will complement the rigorous and relevant interdisciplinary research conducted by the faculty, scientists and doctoral students of the Preschool Research Group at FCRR,” concluded Dr. Phillips.

Introduced in 2014 and administered by the Spencer Foundation, the Lyle Spencer Research Awards are a highly competitive series of grants aimed at advancing education practices internationally. The ten inaugural 2015 recipients were selected from an initial pool of 270 initial applicants. More information regarding the Lyle Spencer Research Awards may be found at

For more information, please contact Nathan Archer at