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TuTu and Me (2015)

March 2, 2016

Nā ʻŌiwi Kāne has provided the Tūtū and Me Traveling Preschool program with a grant which funded a portion of the longitudinal study for school year 2014-2015.


In 2008, Tūtū and Me launched a longitudinal study conducted by Toni B. Porter formerly with the Bank Street College of Education to evaluate the project’s long-term impact on program participants.
The longitudinal study proposed to answer three questions:
• What are the characteristics of the children and families who participate in TTM?
• What is the quality of care provided by the parents and caregivers in TTM?
• To what extent does participation in TTM affect children’s development as they move from TTM to early elementary years?
• To what extent does participation in TTM help parents and caregivers contribute to children’s development and school functioning?


Assessments have been conducted of individual children’s receptive language ability, letter-word recognition, and math skills. In addition, parent and teacher reports have been used to assess children’s behavior and social competence. Student records have been used to obtain data about attendance, grade retention, referrals to special education, and disciplinary problems. Assessments of child care quality have been collected through observations of individual caregivers in TTM as well as through observations of preschool and school classrooms. Data on parent, family and child characteristics have been collected through surveys or interviews with parents.


We were delighted by the results of the longitudinal study, which concluded:


The results for Time Study 1 to Time Study 4, in sum:

  • We found statistically significant improvements on the PPVT receptive language abilities on stanine scores between T1 and T3. The norm or expected stanine is 5. The mean at T3 was 6.8.

  • We also found statistically significant improvements in language on the WJ-R Test 4 as well as on Test 10 assessments of math abilities for both age and grade equivalents.

  • On the CBCL, there were statistically significant decreases in developmental problems (afraid to try new things, inability to get along with peers, and willingness to answer), affective problems like crying, ADHD (sitting still, can’t stand waiting), and oppositional behavior such as being uncooperative or defiant.

  • For the DECA, a similar pattern emerged. There was a statistically significant decrease in ratings of behavioral concerns (angry or aggressive behaviors), and increases in self-control (ability to express emotion in appropriate ways).

Parent perceptions

  • In the interviews with caregivers in 2011, when the keiki had finished kindergarten, we asked about Tūtū and Me’s influence on their children and the aspects of the program that caregivers perceived as beneficial for kindergarten.

  • Four primary themes emerged, and they are identified Structure, Curriculum, Home School, and Culture.

  • Caregivers saw Tūtū and Me’s structure and routines as helping their children learn self-control, to sit in a circle with other children, to interact with adults other than family or friends, to learn how to listen and follow directions.

  • They also saw the curriculum as exposing children to a variety of learning activities, starting children on the path to an appreciation of books and reading, helping children gain fine and gross motor skills, and importantly, giving children choices of activities to follow their own interests.

  • Many caregivers talked about the book bags and back packs as an important connection between the program and home. The book bags and the story not only helped their keiki learn responsibility, they said, but also gain pre-reading and language skills.

  • For both Native Hawaiians and non-Native Hawaiians, the emphasis on culture was valuable. For Native Hawaiians who spoke Hawaiian at home, the use of language reinforced what children knew. For Native Hawaiians who did not speak Hawaiian, the language, songs and stories provided a link to their culture. For non-Native Hawaiians, the emphasis on language and culture was meaningful because, as one caregiver said, “We live in Hawai‘i. This is who we are.”


  • The findings suggest that Tūtū and Me prepares its keiki for school, and for later school achievement.

  • The vast majority of the small number of keiki we followed from age 3 through 2nd grade were doing fine. If we interpret MP as at grade level, and ME as above grade level, very few children (one or two) were performing below grade level and about a third—give or take—were performing above grade level.

  • Where there were differences, it was mostly between girls and boys on the GLOs: the girls were typically rated better than the boys on working neatly and correctly and listening and following directions. This feels like something developmental.

  • Equally important, given Tūtū and Me’s efforts to improve the gap for Native Hawaiian children, Native Hawaiians performed at the same levels as non-Native Hawaiians. There was only one significant difference, and that was in 1st grade, where the Native Hawaiian keiki performed lower than the non-Native Hawaiians on the GLO related to working neatly and correctly. 

The positive results of this program have a lasting effect on all the participants and we look forward to continuing our support for Tūtū and Me.

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