Latest Research

Examining Quality in Two Preschool Settings: Publicly Funded Early Childhood Education and Inclusive Early Childhood Education Classrooms

October 2016
Christina Yeager Pelatti, Jaclyn M. Dynia, Jessica A. R. Logan, Laura M. Justice, Joan Kaderavek

Research shows that high-quality early education is essential for all children. The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) guarantees children with disabilities the right to be included in school alongside typically developing peers, known as inclusion. Abut 10 percent of all preschoolers are diagnosed with a disability and nearly half of preschool-aged children with disabilities attend inclusive early education programs--although potential barriers exist that could limite access to high-quality preschools.

This study investigates the extent to which differences exist between (a) publicly funded ECE classrooms that primarily serve typically developing children from low-income households, and (b) inclusive classrooms that include both children with disabilities.  It finds that inclusive ECE classrooms had lower quality instructional support than publicly funded ECE environments for children generally.

Public Pre-K Financial Landscape

September 2016
Richard Kasmin

The view of preschool as welfare influences the way preschool education is financed and helps explain why the US doesn’t offer every child a quality preschool education. Preschool funding is much more heavily dependent on a patchwork of federal programs -- a tradition more reflective of social insurance programs than public education, which is primarily a state and local responsibility. As a result in most states preschool programs including Head Start and subsidized child care target only the most vulnerable young children -- a noble goal for sure, but even these programs fail to reach most of the intended beneficiaries and funding levels are far from adequate for a quality early education.

If the US public was more convinced of the educational value of pre-K, would we see more state and local financial resources being invested? It seems likely.  Most states do provide some funding for preschool and child care, but local funding is much less common.  By contrast, 45% of public K-12 education comes from local taxes, the large majority from property tax receipts. State resources account for another 47% of spending. The rest -- just 8% -- is filled by federal funds.  If the local share for early childhood programs were equal to that for K-12, funding for state pre-K programs would just about double. 

Taking a broader view including Head Start and state funded pre-K, just over half of the dollars come from federal government financing (51%), with states providing 39% and just 9% deriving from local sources. With a few notable exceptions, such as Maine, Oklahoma, and West Virginal, most states have virtually no local tax support for public early education programs.

The State of Infant-Toddler Care and Education in New Jersey

December 2013
Judith M. Y. Alexandre, Natalie Makow, Kwanghee Jung, Steve Barnett

In this report to New Jersey Council for Young Children (NJCYC) Department of Education, researchers present the results of two studies of the quality of child care received by infants and toddlers in New Jersey which addressed the following questions: What is the quality of infant and toddler center-based care in New Jersey?  What is the quality of this infant/toddler care in each of the twenty one counties?  What are some common strengths and weaknesses of infant and toddler center-based care?    

Fact Sheet: The Abbott Preschool Program Longitudinal Effects Study (APPLES)

December 2013

Beginning in the 2005-2006 school year, the seventh year of implementation of the high-quality pre-K program in New Jersey's Abbott districts, NIEER began a longitudinal study to measure learning gains from participating in Abbott pre-K.  At the time the study began, quality had risen but not yet to its current level, and 40,500 3- and 4-year-old children were served. This fact sheet presents key takeaways from NIEER's longitudinal study of the program quality and child outcomes. 

The Essex Quality Improvement Project (EQUIP)

June 2013
Judith Marie Yves Alexandre, Natalie Makow, Kwanghee Jung, W. Steven Barnett

A survey of the quality of infant and toddler child care in Essex County (including Newark, Orange, Irvington and East Orange) finds that high quality care is scarce, especially for infants.  Poor quality care is far too common. Recommendations for improvement are offered based on a study of the determinants of care quality in Essex County.

Longitudinal Effects of the Arkansas Better Chance Program: Findings from First Grade through Fourth Grade

May 2013
Kwanghee Jung, W. Steven Barnett, Jason T. Hustedt, Jessica Francis

Arkansas’ state-funded preschool program has been found to have positive effects on children’s receptive vocabulary, math, and literacy.

Abbott Preschool Program Longitudinal Effects Study: Fifth Grade Follow-Up

March 2013
by W. Steven Barnett, Kwanghee Jung, Min-Jong Youn, and Ellen C. Frede

The multi-year study of New Jersey’s Abbott Preschool Program shows that children in the state’s most disadvantaged communities who participate in the pre-K program make significant gains in literacy, language, math and science through 4th and 5th grade.

Preschool Education as an Educational Reform: Issues of Effectiveness and Access

September 2011
By W. Steven Barnett

In this paper for the National Research Council and U.S. Equity and Excellence Commission, NIEER Director Steve Barnett looks at studies that provide rigorous estimates of the effects of some large scale, state-funded pre-K programs – both targeted and universal.  Using available data on preschool access in the United States, Dr. Barnett also provides estimates on pre-K enrollment by family income and the costs of providing educationally effective pre-K programs to all children.

The New Mexico PreK Evaluation: Impacts From the Fourth Year (2008-2009) of New Mexico’s State-Funded PreK Program

November 2010

New Mexico’s children who attend the state-funded Pre-K program have been found to have achieved significant positive effects in vocabulary, math, and literacy skills at the beginning of kindergarten, according to the fourth in a series of annual reports by NIEER.

Investing in Young Children: New Directions in Federal Preschool and Early Childhood Policy

October 2010

Ron Haskins and Steve Barnett focus on Early Head Start, Head Start, and home visiting programs in this collection of papers they edit. Promising recommendations include closing ineffective Head Start centers or giving other program operators the opportunity to compete for Head Start.

Funding cuts to state-funded prekindergarten programs in FY10 & 11

August 2010

National Institute for Early Education Research Co-Director Steve Barnett and Research Professor Dale Epstein estimate the cuts in state funding for prekindergarten across fiscal years 2010 and 2011.

Do Effects of Early Child Care Extend to Age 15 Years? Results From the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development

May 2010

The latest report from the NICHD child care study that has tracked more than 1,000 kids from birth to age 15 finds benefits of high-quality child care last into the teenage years.