Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel: Educational Innovations in and Outside the Home

Friday, November 13, 2015: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Miami Lecture Hall (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Brad Hershbein, W.E. Upjohn Institute
Panel Chairs:  Seth Gershenson, American University
Discussants:  Marcus Dillender, W.E. Upjohn Institute

Early Childhood Education By MOOC: Lessons from Sesame Street
Melissa Kearney, University of Maryland and Phillip Levine, Wellesley College

The Effects of Pre-K Access and Quality on Social Mobility
Timothy Bartik, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research and Brad Hershbein, W.E. Upjohn Institute

Social science research in a variety of specific disciplines has consistently shown that educational interventions in early childhood can have a significant impact on later academic and socioeconomic outcomes. But much remains unknown about the relative importance of interventions that take place in the home (either through direct parent interaction or other means), outside the home (through both center- and school-based programs), and how they interact. Furthermore, as the children of immigrants become a rising share of all children in the country due to changing demographics, it is imperative for policymakers to understand whether and which interventions reach children from different ethnic and lingual backgrounds. The four papers in this panel touch on all these themes from a variety of perspectives and disciplines. Each investigates a specific early childhood intervention using rigorous methodology. The first paper examines the impacts of exposure to Sesame Street, one of the earliest wide-scale educational television programs and perhaps the first MOOC intended for young children, finding that children who had greater access to the program showed improvement on short-run educational outcomes, although these effects may have faded over the lifecourse. The second paper offers a large-scale examination of the effects of publicly funded and provided pre-Kindergarten on academic outcomes, paying careful attention to the possibility of different impacts on different types of students and from programs of varying quality. The third and forth papers specifically look at the children of immigrants. The third paper demonstrates that academic outcomes for these children improve the most when home-based (quality parental time with children) and center-based (formal learning) activities take place in concert. Finally, the fourth paper suggests ready demand for bilingual pre-Kindergarten programs, with both take-up and the likelihood of mothers working increasing with these programs’ introduction, but also that limited resources may be insufficient to meet demand. Together, the papers show that interventions that take place both at home (papers 1 and 3) and in a formal learning environment (papers 2, 3, and 4) have strong potential to improve academic outcomes, especially for students of color and those with limited family resources. In fact, the third paper emphasizes the positive interaction between both types of interventions. The panel’s papers as a whole suggest that public policy that improves access to formal learning environments, especially for relatively disadvantaged children, can have sizable positive academic impacts, but that these impacts are likely larger if academic stimulation from parents and high-quality television programming takes place jointly with school-based learning.
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