The IELS Main Study was carried out in autumn 2018. The Main Study involved three countries – Estonia, the United States and the United Kingdom.
The study was conducted in all three participating countries from October 1 until December 21, 2018. There were approximately 200 kindergartens and about 3000 children from each country in the sample of the Main Study. For the assessment of children, the Main Study used tasks which were adapted and improved during the two previous phases. Customized parent and kindergarten staff questionnaires were also used. Five-year-old children, their parents and kindergarten teachers participated in the IELS Main Study.
The IELS Main Study in Estonia
In Estonia, the Main Study was conducted both in Estonian and in Russian. Estonia was the only country that conducts the IELS study in a bilingual form.
For the direct assessment of children’s skills, an upgraded study app was used. The app included audible instructions in Estonian and Russian. The tasks were in many ways similar to the ones used during the Field Test, but had been greatly improved based on the results of the Field Test. The tasks used in the Empathy domain had been fully updated. The tasks were fun and playful for children to solve and familiar characters Miia and Toomas accompanied the children during the assessment.
The Main Study was carried out in Estonia during three periods. The location and language of the kindergarten determined the period of the study in each kindergarten:
- October 1 – October 19 in the Estonian language kindergartens in Tallinn and Harju County.
- October 29 – November 16 in Estonian language kindergartens in Tartu County, Valga County, Põlva County, Võru County, Jõgeva County, Viljandi County, Pärnu County, Rapla County, and Järva County.
- November 26 – December 14 in the Estonian language kindergartens in Lääne-Viru County, Ida-Viru County, Lääne County, Saaremaa, Hiiumaa and in language immersion kindergartens and in Russian language kindergartens in Tallinn, Tartu, and Ida-Viru County.
The assessment of the children’s skills was carried out by Study Administrators who were kindergarten teachers or employees of Innove, who had pedagogical background and experience in working with five-year-old children. More than 200 Study Administrators participated in the Main Study. The Study Administrators took part in a thorough training which covered the topics ranging from carrying out an international study to supporting the children while using the IELS assessment instruments. There was also a designated Coordinator in each participating kindergarten who supported carrying out the Study in their centre.
According to preliminary data, 200 kindergartens and more than 2200 children participated in the Main Study in Estonia. More than 700 early child-care institutions’ staff members filled out the staff questionnaire about themselves and the questionnaire about children was filled out for more than 2100 children. More than 1900 parents filled out the parent questionnaire.