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UNL to lead national network studying early childhood education

January 25, 2016
OutcomesState & LocalState Pre-K Evaluations
Chris Dunker

Researchers across the country will study policies and practices of early childhood education that help close the achievement gap in a $6.5 million project led by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The Early Learning Network, part of a $26 million U.S. Department of Education initiative, will study how education policies differ in rural and urban areas for children in pre-kindergarten through third grade to learn how educators can close the achievement gap for at-risk students.

Susan Sheridan, who will lead UNL’s efforts as well as the network at large, said the research will combine efforts of the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools, as well as NU’s Buffett Early Childhood Institute and Public Policy Center.

“We’re learning a lot about what works and what really matters and how we can prepare students as they move in to more formal schooling,” Sheridan said. “Our research has, for many years, focused on understanding and creating conditions to optimize young children’s learning, particularly at-risk children.”

The project will track children over time to study how changes in the educational environment — including the move to new classrooms and different instructional approaches among teachers — impact the transition through the early elementary years.