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Research reports on early education from NIEER and outside organizations

Research Reports

Increasing the Effectiveness of Preschool Programs


March 1, 2006
Governance and AccountabilityOutcomesQuality and CurriculumState & Local
Debra J. Ackerman and W. Steven Barnett

This report reviews research on the inputs contributing to quality, features of programs that impact children’s learning and development, and current state policies related to these characteristics.

Summary

The wide variety of programs currently available can create confusion about what contributes to program effectiveness. This report reviews research on the inputs contributing to quality, features of programs that impact children’s learning and development, and current state policies related to these characteristics. Some of the policy recommendations offered by the report include:

  • Minimum requirements for publicly funded preschool programs should include: teachers with a bachelor’s degree and specialized training in early childhood education, class sizes no larger than 20, and staff-child ratios no larger than 1:10.
  • Programs should receive adequate funding to maintain effective class sizes and teacher-child ratios, hire and retain qualified teachers, and provide other supports that are crucial for meeting their community’s needs.
  • Children’s learning standards should be strengthened so that teachers have clear and comprehensive guidelines about the skills and knowledge children should have, what specific practices can contribute to children’s learning, and how that learning might best be assessed.
  • Ongoing, formative research should be conducted to accurately gauge program strengths and weaknesses and also inform decisions about how programs can best be adjusted to improve their educational effectiveness.