Early Childhood Education Policy: Preschool Program Efficacy, Composition, and Quality Improvement
Thursday, November 12, 2015: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Brickell South (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Panel Organizers: Rebekah Levine Coley, Boston College
Panel Chairs: Rebekah Levine Coley, Boston College
Discussants: Rebecca Bulotsky-Shearer, University of Miami and Cathleen L. Armstead, Miami-Dade County Community Action and Human Services Department
In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama called for universal access to high quality preschool for all children in America as a mechanism to increase children’s readiness for school, expand children’s long-term success, and decrease inequality. Although we remain far from that goal, recent years have seen substantial expansions in government efforts to increase preschool access and to monitor and improve preschool quality. The number of children in state-sponsored preschool programs, for example, has increased by nearly 50% in the past decade, with 40 states funding state preschool programs or supplementing Head Start with state dollars. And yet a great many questions remain concerning the efficacy of current systems, models of provision, and quality improvement efforts surrounding preschool systems.
This session seeks to address a set of the most pressing policy issues concerning expanding federal, state, and locally-sponsored preschool systems. The first paper provides essential background by presenting evidence of the efficacy of preschool for promoting long-term educational gains for children. Using meta-analysis, this paper provides evidence that preschool programs decrease special education placement and grade retention, and increase high school graduation rates. Building on this base of the evidence, the following papers address more specific issues regarding the targeting and assessment of preschool programs for children. The second paper addresses the validity of the most popular quality assessment measures being used in quality rating improvement systems, arguing for the need for revisions to current quality measures. The third paper considers how the clustering of children with limited academic preparation together into preschool programs may affect program goals, finding that the average skills of children in preschool classrooms predicts both individual children’s learning as well as teachers’ provision of effective instructional practices. The final paper considers the efficacy of professional development programs seeking to improve the quality of preschool programs.
Together, this panel seeks to provide practical evidence regarding the efficacy of practices, measurements, and improvement systems currently being implemented by cities and states across the country. These papers will be discussed and evaluated in the context of local early childhood efforts in Miami Dade County. Led by a research evaluator and practitioner, discussion will focus on the translation of results to state and local programs and policy initiatives.