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About the Project
The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) conducted a landscape evaluation of early childhood programs in Indiana (IN) between the spring of 2021 and the summer of 2022. Commissioned by Early Learning Indiana (ELI), this study provides Indiana programs and policymakers with research-based information on the quality of a sample of 321 classrooms in 206 programs in Indiana and the developmental growth of 715 infants, toddlers and preschoolers in these classrooms. The evaluation focused on understanding the impact of various program components on program quality across a variety of types of early care and education programs in the state. In addition, the report describes the developmental growth of the children in the sampled programs (n= 223 infants and toddlers; n= 492 preschoolers.)
The study found that despite the intervening impact of the pandemic on program operations, the results of independent assessments of quality over two time periods from 2021 to 2022 were stable. Children in this sample experienced environments that on average were warm, caring, and supportive. However, findings indicate low levels of language and instructional support observed over time for all age groups.
This study employed a set of standardized child assessments designed to measure learning across various domains that are psychometrically valid, proven to discriminate effects in intervention studies, and appropriate for the age range of birth to five. The study found that on average, all children showed significant growth in receptive vocabulary, regardless of their enrollment location or center type. However, literacy development lagged for all children similarly, regardless of where children were enrolled. Overall, children also showed improvements in externalizing behaviors.
The report discusses the policy implications of these findings on children’s developmental status and considering the findings on program quality, we recommend that the state provide all educators with the necessary tools to effectively support children’s healthy growth and development. This includes enriched, culturally responsive curriculum and instructional resources, effective assessments to measure and drive progress for classrooms and children, sustained professional development, and actionable data for continuous improvement.
Milagros Nores, Ph.D. is Co-Director for Research and Associate Research Professor at The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University. Dr. Nores conducts research at NIEER on issues related to early childhood policy, programs, and evaluation, both nationally and internationally.
Erin Harmeyer, Ph.D. is Assistant Research Professor at NIEER. Dr. Harmeyer conducts research at NIEER related to early childhood programs and evaluation, including projects in West Virginia, Indiana, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
Lori Connors-Tadros, Ph.D. is Senior Research Fellow at NIEER. Dr. Connors-Tadros conducts research to inform state policymakers on issues related to the quality and sustainability of programs for young children birth through early elementary. She is the executive vice president of the Board of the National Parents as Teachers organization.
Zijia Li, Ph.D. is Assistant Research Professor at NIEER. Dr. Li is an experienced psychometrician and statistician. She has led and participated in leading and conducting rigorous reliability and validity research studies for multiple subjects, including Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test III and IV, the Hawaii Early Learning Profile®, and the High/Scope Child Observation Record.
Carol Contreras, M. Ed., is Program Coordinator at NIEER. She has supported research in West Virginia, Colombia (South America), Indiana, and New Jersey.