From India and Laos to school districts in California, our research, resources, and multimedia provide insight into a wide array of topics across the U.S. and around the world. Explore highlights from our 2017 work.
This Early Learning Master Plan for Santa Clara County presents both a snapshot of the state of early childhood education in Santa Clara County as of 2017 and a roadmap for the future, with goals, milestones, and actions aimed to address the needs of children ages birth to eight, their families, and the providers who teach and care for them. It also provides an overview of progress made since 2010, current needs, and specific goals and steps to address those needs between now and 2024.
To combat malnutrition, BRAC Bangladesh has implemented Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health programming focused on nutrition and early childhood development. This programming is designed to combat malnutrition in pregnant-lactating women and young children, as well as to implement multiple strategiesto establish better practices for breastfeeding and child feeding, build capacity for community health workers, and create nutrition service deliveries within communities.
Transitional kindergarten is a universal, age-based early childhood program in California that is intended to prepare five-year-olds for kindergarten. Karen Manship explains how student outcomes compare between those who attend transitional kindergarten and those who do not and how the program helps ensure children receive a strong start to their educational careers.
California’s Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010 established transitional kindergarten (TK), the first year of a two-year kindergarten program for students affected by the change in the birthdate cutoff for entry into kindergarten from December 2 to September 1. This final report from the program’s evaluation focuses on results from a five-year study. The study used a rigorous regression discontinuity design to examine whether TK, as a new approach to prekindergarten education for age-eligible students, leads to positive outcomes, for which students, and under what conditions.
Created in 2010 by the Kindergarten Readiness Act, transitional kindergarten offers younger children in California additional time to prepare for school. Transitional kindergarten provides an additional year of early education to approximately 120,000 children each year, with the goal of promoting their school readiness. Explore resources that show what we’ve learned about transitional kindergarten so far.
Please join experts from the Center for English Language Learners at AIR on June 22, 2017 to learn how teachers can support the development of oral language and pre-literacy skills in preschool and kindergarten English learners (ELs).
The Pay for Success (PFS) model, also known as the Social Impact Bonds model, is a relatively new way to finance improvements in persistent social problems. PFS brings together investors with local, state, and federal government agencies to fund and improve education, health, and social services. AIR is implementing this approach in many communities around the country.
This fifth brief in a series highlighting findings from the Study of California’s Transitional Kindergarten Program summarizes what we have learned about the impact of TK on EL students’ school readiness skills, including mathematics skills, language and literacy skills, and English proficiency.
States have prioritized documenting and improving the quality of early childhood education programs by developing quality rating and improvement systems (QRISs). This report describes the quality improvement efforts of early childhood education programs participating in Iowa’s voluntary quality rating and improvement system, the Iowa Quality Rating System (QRS). The findings of this study provide an overview of the landscape of quality improvement activities among early childhood education programs participating in the Iowa QRS and their relationship with increased ratings.
It’s been 40 years since performance standards were substantially revised for Head Start. The newly Revised Head Start Rules were approved and released last September. They include four major changes: increased duration, expanded access, special supports for vulnerable populations, and improved supports for teachers. In this blog post, Eboni Howard offers a run-down on the evidence-base for these new rules.
A quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) is a voluntary state assessment system that uses multidimensional data on early childhood education programs to rate program quality, support quality improvement efforts, and provide information to families about the quality of available early childhood education programs. This report describes three versions of a survey that helps states collect data, including how to use it, how it was developed, and how it can be adapted for other states.
High-quality early care and education (ECE) provides an important foundation for young children’s success in school and in life. Yet fewer than two of three U.S. children are enrolled in center-based ECE programs. Gabriele Fain examines ECE internationally and the factors that may contribute to the high rate of participation in many European countries.
The achievement gap, which refers to the disparity in academic performance between groups of students, is a pressing issue facing K-12 education. AIR is supporting states to close academic achievement gaps through strategies including alternative school discipline policies, GIS mapping, improved early childhood education, and culturally responsive instruction. In this video, the four directors of the federally funded regional Comprehensive Centers discuss promising approaches in Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, and Texas.
Research shows that children are more successful in school and beyond if they are given a strong foundation in the earliest years of their lives. ESSA includes new opportunities for states to strengthen and expand access to public early childhood education. Read about AIR's early childhood and child development work with respect to ESSA.
This presentation was given by AIR staff to stakeholders in Oakland in 2016. It describes a strategy for city leaders and stakeholders to expand access to quality programs to 3- and 4-year-olds in the city, identifying the areas of highest need.
High-quality early care and education (ECE) provides a critical foundation for young children’s success in school and in life. Yet, in the United States, fewer than two out of three preschool-age children are enrolled in center-based ECE programs. This brief highlights promising practices used in many European countries to ensure all children have access to ECE—practices which can inform similar efforts in the U.S.
High-quality early care and education (ECE) provides an important foundation for young children’s success in school and in life. Yet, in the United States, fewer than two out of three children between the ages of 3 and 6 are enrolled in center-based ECE programs.
CS for All Teachers is a virtual community of practice, welcoming all teachers from PreK through high school who are interested in teaching computer science. It provides an online home for teachers to connect with one another and with the resources and expertise they need to successfully teach computer science in their classrooms.
How many students in our nation’s kindergarten classrooms were born outside the United States? Where do they come from and what languages do they speak? As students enter new classrooms this fall, Shannon Russell, Jeremy Redford, and Meghan McQuiggan explore these questions and more using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11 data.
The purpose of the Independent Evaluation of California’s Race to the Top–Early Learning Challenge (RTT–ELC) Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) is to inform California stakeholders about the ability of the QRIS to accurately measure program quality, differentiate programs with better learning outcomes for children, and provide quality improvement (QI) supports that meet program improvement needs.
When children have positive attitudes and behavior towards reading, they generally also demonstrate strong reading skills. Strong reading skills enable children to access and learn content in a variety of subjects and reap a host of other academic and nonacademic benefits. On July 13, 2016, AIR hosted a presentation and discussion that examined whether parents’ reading attitudes and behaviors are shared by their children—that is, if reading attitudes and behaviors are “contagious.”
Young children experience various types of early care and education environments the year before they enter kindergarten. This report examines data to explore relationships between children’s primary care and education arrangements the year before kindergarten and their academic skills and learning behaviors at kindergarten entry.
In this second blog post in a series examining educational challenges facing youth in foster care, from early childhood into college, Trish Campie offers some promising solutions to creating pathways to college and career success.
California’s Kindergarten Readiness Act of 2010 established transitional kindergarten (TK), the first year of a two-year kindergarten program for students affected by the change in the birthdate cutoff. This fifth short report in a series highlighting findings from the Study of California’s Transitional Kindergarten Program focuses on what we have learned about the structure, teachers, and instruction in TK classrooms in the 2014–15 school year.
Recent federal and state policies that recognize the benefits of high-quality early childhood education and care have led to a rapid expansion of quality rating and improvement systems (QRISs). This study examined QRISs in use across the Midwest Region to describe approaches that states use in developing and implementing a QRIS. Findings suggest that the process of applying for a Race to the Top–Early Learning Challenge grant helped advance the development of a QRIS system.
High-quality preschool programs can have far reaching benefits for kids, parents, and communities—and they can provide a high return on initial investments. This 10 Series report summarizes our key findings about local preschool initiatives in 10 U.S. communities.
Critical gaps currently exist in the availability of high-quality preschool, particularly in low-income areas of Sonoma County, California. Building on the county's interest in universal preschool, and the body of work already conducted in the county supporting it, this report provides a plan to expand access to preschool and to raise the quality of service.
Eboni Howard has devoted her career to researching early care and child development, working to ensure that all children receive high-quality early experiences—regardless of race, ethnicity, income, or zip code. In the second podcast episode in the Education Policy Center's Equity Series, Howard and Peter Cookson discuss what research has shown and the implications for policymakers.
California is home to more than one million three- and four-year-old children, but is ranked among the 15 states producing the worst outcomes for youth. This brief presents an analysis of the unmet need for preschool services in California at the state and local levels and concludes with a more detailed discussion of the policy implications of these findings.
Eboni Howard shares what’s known—and isn’t—about early childhood programs and asks legislators to invest in research-based paths to greater equality of opportunity for the children who will become America’s labor force, citizenry, and leaders.
Research shows that integrating arts into early childhood education has great potential for improving student learning in multiple disciplines. This brief builds on the results of a randomized-controlled trial of Wolf Trap’s Early Childhood STEM Learning Through the Arts program. Findings from the study show that participation in the program yielded a significant positive effect equivalent to one to two months of learning.
A December 2015 AIR study finds that Transitional Kindergarten, the first year of a two-year kindergarten program for young five-year-olds in California, appears to improve children’s school readiness in critical areas of academic learning and development. Researchers Karen Manship and Heather Quick explain how and suggest next steps.
California students who had attended Transitional Kindergarten were more advanced than their peers in language, literacy, mathematics and executive function, early results of a study by AIR show, as shown in this infographic.
Nearly all 50 states implement—or plan to implement—some form of a quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) for early childhood education and care programs to rate, communicate, and improve the quality of early education and care. However, each state uses different strategies to help programs improve the quality of early education and care. AIR is hosting a webinar to delve into the findings summarized in its recently published brief, Moving Up the Ladder: How Do States Deliver Quality Improvement Supports Within Their Quality Rating and Improvement Systems?
As national attention has increasingly focused on the potential for high-quality early childhood education (ECE) to improve children’s school readiness, states have developed quality rating and improvement systems (QRISs) to document the quality of ECE programs, support systematic quality improvement, and provide clear information to families about their child care choices. This brief discusses quality improvement supports, including their prevalence in state and regional QRISs, and key considerations for their implementation.
In this commentary, Pooja Reddy Nakamura, an AIR senior researcher explores the question of when to introduce English to children in multilingual contexts. Rather than introducing it at the first opportunity, she suggests grouping classes by local language achievement skill—not just age—and introducing written English only after the local language threshold has been reached.
Recent federal efforts to expand access to early childhood education for six million children by 2020 have also increased attention about quality programming. In this video interview, Ann-Marie Faria, principal researcher, explains the role that Quality Rating and Improvement Systems have in communicating about quality to parents, programs, and policy makers.
Head Start, a leader for 50 years in preparing children from low income families for kindergarten and beyond, is about to undergo its first comprehensive overhaul since 1975. In this blog post, AIR's Yoni Farber talks about the importance of the change from intermittent workshops to intensive professional development for Head Start practitioners.
The persistence of gaps in education, income, health, and other socioeconomic indicators suggests the urgent need to reduce inequality early in life. In this white paper, Eboni Howard reviews the science of early childhood and summarizes the disparities and the opportunity gaps stemming from inequalities, describing programs, services, and policies that might affect the extent of inequality and provide supportive early life experiences.
As ESEA turns 50 this month, the time is ripe to rethink whether the “E” in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is the best place to start. In this blog post, Susan Muenchow discusses the robust research that reveals students are most successful when they get a good jumpstart prior to elementary school.
Documenting and improving early childhood program quality is a national priority, leading to a rapid expansion of Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRISs). QRISs document and improve the quality of early childhood education programs and provide clear information to families about their childcare choices. Findings from this study suggest that incremental changes to how QRIS ratings are calculated can alter inferences about program quality.
With the 2012-2013 school year, California established a new grade level—Transitional Kindergarten (TK), the first year of a two-year kindergarten experience for students who turn five between September 2 and December 2. When TK began, there were many questions from parents and other stakeholders. This is the third in a series of briefs investigating TK implementation in Year 1, and focuses on district outreach efforts, parent perceptions of TK, and TK student demographics.
President Obama’s proposed federal budget would increase funding for many education initiatives, programs for homeless veterans and disabled workers, technology training for teachers, and other programs. What does research and evidence say about these programs' effectiveness and value?
The Ethiopian government has made a firm commitment to supporting early childhood development and school readiness support nationally. However, the creation of (Grade 0) kindergarten classes in all primary schools cannot be achieved overnight. UNICEF Ethiopia received a challenge grant to test the effectiveness of two accelerated school readiness programs that may serve as a stop-gap measure until Grade 0 can be rolled out nationally.
The White House’s announcement December 10 of a $1-billion public-private investment in early childhood education programs raises critical questions about which program features will best help the projected 63,000 children affected learn and thrive. AIR’s early childhood experts weigh in here.
A cash grant program for households with children under five in three districts in Zambia generated positive impacts, both in terms of immediate needs of the family and children's health, and in longer term productivity. This third report builds upon the results of the 24- and 30-month reports.
The rollout of California's Kindergarten Readiness Act has given rise to questions about how transitional kindergarten is being implemented in districts throughout California. This second research brief in a series highlighting findings from the study focuses on characteristics of transitional kindergarten classrooms compared with those of kindergarten classrooms.
Brain development is critical during children's early years, yet nationally less than 50 percent of children enter Kindergarten ready to learn. AIR and Excellent Schools Detroit developed the Early Learning Scorecard, which provides families and the community with information about climate and culture as part of a high-quality early care and learning program.
AIR’s state and local evaluation projects marshal a broad range of expertise and resources to support state education agencies and district offices as they decide whether to retain, revise, or end a policy or program. The projects address challenges in district and school reform, educator quality, special education, school financing, STEM, literacy, virtual learning, extended learning, English learning, early childhood education, and college and career readiness.
Malnutrition is one of the most serious global health problems. Advancing the knowledge base about the effects of nutrition and early childhood development programs on nutrition outcomes is particularly important in Bangladesh. AIR is evaluating a large-scale nutrition program and a pilot program to combat malnutrition in the country.
In February 2014, President Obama launched the My Brother’s Keeper initiative. This week, the president is announcing an additional $104 million in funding from new partnerships with public and private groups to address the opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color at critical stages throughout their lives. AIR’s work focuses on issues critical to the support of young men of color, from childhood interventions to preparation for career success.
Early learning has few detractors, but publicly supported prekindergarten has many. In this blog post, Susan Muenchow cites a recent AIR study that refutes the main objections and makes the case for free early childhood programs.
Large numbers of Zambian children suffer from nutrition-related disorders such as low birth weight, wasting, being underweight, chronic malnutrition, and various nutrient deficiencies. AIR and its partners are evaluating the First 1000 Most Critical Days Program, which addresses these issues by targeting households with pregnant women or children under two for maternal and child nutrition and health services.
A study looking at the first year of transitional kindergarten in California finds that most districts implemented the new grade level, and that approaches varied widely. Overall, transitional kindergarten appears to provide a different experience than traditional kindergarten. The results are shared in AIR's "Study of California’s Transitional Kindergarten Program: Report on the First Year of Implementation."
The primary purpose of California's Birth Through 3 Program is to increase the number of the most vulnerable children receiving high quality comprehensive services that meet their needs for early learning, health and family support.
In resource-limited settings such as Southern Africa, malnutrition and infectious diseases need to be an integral part of thinking about early childhood interventions. AIR conducted a cluster-randomized trial to test the feasibility and preliminary impact of a package of community-based early childhood services in a rural area of Zambia.
With the 2012-2013 school year, California established a new grade level called Transitional Kindergarten (TK), the first year of a two-year kindergarten experience for students who turn five between September 2 and December 2. When fully implemented, TK is intended to provide an additional year of early education for these children, with the goal of promoting their success in school. The Heising-Simons Foundation and The David and Lucile Packard Foundation are partnering with AIR to study the impact of TK on children’s academic and social-emotional skills in kindergarten, and how these impacts are related to program quality characteristics.
Between 2007 and 2013, UNICEF commissioned 133 evaluations of UNICEF-supported basic education interventions. AIR conducted a synthesis review to determine their effectiveness, efficiency, relevance, and sustainability, and advised UNICEF on how, when, and for what to invest limited resources in rigorous evaluations of the impact of basic education interventions.
Systems to rate the quality of child care and preschool programs are in place or under development in 49 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. In this blog post, Laura Hawkinson and Karen Manship explain that, until validation and evaluation studies are complete, states' varying systems make it hard for parents to fully understand the ratings.
Throughout the State of the Union address last night, there was a renewed emphasis on the link between career success and education—from Pre-K through college. This blog post highlights AIR's work in many of the areas highlighted by the President.
The Office of Head Start developed the Early Learning Mentor Coach initiative to improve practices in Head Start programs. AIR conducted a study to describe the objectives, activities, approaches, strategies and other aspects of the initiative.
According to an AIR analysis of data from U.S. Department of Education’s early childhood longitudinal studies, America’s public school kindergarten has become dramatically more academic. In this blog post, Jill Walston and Kristin Flanagan describe the data and ask how this affects children who don't have the opportunity to attend a high-quality preschool.
Quality rating and improvement systems (QRISs) constitute an ambitious policy approach to improving early care and education practices and child outcomes. A QRIS is a uniform set of ratings, graduated by level of quality, used to assess and improve early learning and care programs. The purpose of this study, conducted by AIR and the RAND Corporation, is to support the state of California and its counties in their efforts to build robust, evidence-based quality improvement systems.
Transitional kindergarten aims to provide an additional year of early education to California’s youngest students to ensure that they obtain the necessary preparation to succeed in school. This research brief provides an initial glimpse of transitional kindergarten in its first year of statewide implementation.
The Early Learning Needs Assessment Tool can create custom or provide prepared reports using data AIR has collected on the supply and demand for early learning and care for young children, including estimates of those eligible for Title V state programs.
Twenty-two percent of infants in Bangladesh have low birth weight, and 41% of children under age five have stunted growth; the majority of these children lack appropriate stimulation and early learning opportunities. This project evaluates the Save the Children Early Childhood Stimulation Program, which targets very poor, rural families with young children in Bangladesh.
AIR conducted a review of key literature in 2011–12 exploring the measurement of teacher practice and student learning in arts-integrated settings through a project funded by the Department of Education and offered by the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts.
The Stretch to Kindergarten program is a six-week school readiness program that serves children with limited prior preschool experience during the summer prior to their kindergarten entry. AIR continued an evaluation of the Stretch to Kindergarten program in Mountain View, California in 2012, the program’s fourth year.
Approximately 135,000 children between three and five years of age live in the departments of Ayacucho, Huancavelica, and Huánuco in Peru, where total poverty and extreme poverty rates far exceed the national averages. AIR is evaluating the impact of a preschool program which aims to improve the quality of early childhood services in these areas.
Supported by federal funds, California is developing a comprehensive statewide plan for an integrated early learning system, the California Comprehensive Early Learning Plan (CCELP). In support of the development of this plan, AIR compiled a report describing statistics on the condition of children in California, and analyzing existing research and recommendations on the state’s early childhood services.
Using data from the final two rounds of the ECLS-B, a longitudinal study begun in 2001, this First Look provides a snapshot of the demographic characteristics, reading and mathematics knowledge, fine motor skills, school characteristics, and before- and after-school care arrangements of the cohort at the time they first began kindergarten.
Preschool for all (PFA) is a citywide preschool program that offers free and reduced cost preschool for 4-year olds who reside in San Francisco County. AIR conducted a five-year joint process evaluation, beginning in December of 2005, to assess the implementation of PFA. The process evaluation was designed to investigate and document the implementation and the preliminary impacts of PFA on children, families, providers, and the community.
There are several challenges to assessing the quality and adequacy of early learning services for children in California. The purpose of this policy brief is to improve the knowledge base on the utilization, quality, and access to early learning and care services for infants and toddlers in California.
Although increasing numbers of children are enrolling in primary school in low- and middle-income countries, many enter late, fail to progress, and drop out. A child-to-child approach to enhancing learning in developing countries is designed to provide preschool-aged children with early learning opportunities in their homes and their communities at very low cost. AIR evaluated this approach in Bangladesh, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Tajikistan, and Yemen.
The First 5 LA Family Literacy Initiative is a comprehensive program to promote language and literacy development, parenting knowledge and skills, and economic self-sufficiency among low-income families. AIR has worked with First 5 LA since the beginning of the initiative to evaluate its implementation and overall effectiveness.
The purpose of the five-year Preschool Research and Technical Assistance Project for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation has been to offer research-based technical assistance to state and local entities on how to phase in access to high-quality preschool to all children in California, beginning in the neighborhoods with the greatest need.
Unlike the K-12 school system, the preschool system does not maintain unique child identifiers, making it difficult to impossible to track children’s enrollment in child care. This needs assessment of preschool supply and demand in the state of California uses existing public data sources to estimate, by county and zip code, the population of preschool children and the number enrolled in publicly contracted and privately operated programs.
In California, the demand for full-day, full-year early care and education programs has grown over time due to changing family needs. The purpose of this policy brief is specifically to address the financing issues involved in providing full-day, full-year preschool programs.
In 2003, First 5 California approved $100 million to establish the Power of Preschool (PoP) Demonstration Program to expand access but also to provide financial incentives to improve the quality of preschool. This brief addresses what lessons can be learned from the PoP demonstration projects to help inform the development of reimbursement rates, not only for the potential continuation of the First 5-funded programs, but also for other publicly financed efforts designed to serve preschool children.
States have traditionally limited public expenditures for preschool programs to children from low-income families or those with disabilities. The Packard Foundation awarded collaborative grants to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and AIR to estimate the cost of a preschool program that would be accessible to all four-year-olds in California. This policy brief summarizes the findings from that project.
Assessing access to early care and education is a key first step in any policy improvement initiative. In part because of the diverse delivery system for early childhood programs in the U.S., there is no single source of data on the availability of programs much less on the enrollment in those programs. AIR’s Early Learning Needs Assessment Tool allows users to create custom reports by county and California legislative district, with zip code detail, regarding the supply of and demand for early care and education.
Since 2004, San Francisco expanded preschool access for children in San Francisco County, regardless of family income through its Preschool for All (PFA) initiative. In December 2005, AIR began a joint process evaluation to assess the implementation of PFA in San Francisco and San Mateo Counties. The process evaluation was designed to investigate and document the implementation and the preliminary impacts of PFA on children, families, providers, and the community.
Slides from a presentation on September 28, 2005 to the Advisory Board for the Long Term Outcomes for Children Receiving Preschool Intervention for Behavioral and Developmental Concerns Project in Cleveland, OH.