With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Institute for Early Education Research recently launched a multi-year study engaging more than 1,000 children across New Jersey to see how preschool policies and practices at school district, school, and classroom levels influence child development and health.
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Research has indicated a link between physical activity and children’s cognitive performance, as well as social-emotional skills such as self-regulation. In addition, lack of physical activity for young children is a concern due to high rates of childhood obesity. NIEER has been collecting health-related data, measuring children’s height and weight, collecting saliva from children and teachers to monitor cortisol levels as a gauge of stress levels and distributing activity trackers to measure children’s activity and sleep patterns.

We believe this RWJF study is the first using activity trackers to gauge how preschool programs affect children’s well-being and development. We hope to share new insights about how preschool policy and practice affect children’s physical activity, and how the level of activity influences physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development.  NIEER Research Team
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Science Behind the Research

What do participating districts hope to learn?

NIEER’s study is designed to identify how public preschool programs can achieve and maintain high quality. Some district leaders shared their reasons for participating.


  • Renee Whelan Director of Early Childhood/Long Branch School District
  • Vanessa Mironov Title 1 and Staff Development Coordinator/Carteret Public Schools 
  • Jason A. Kupcha Director of Preschool Education/Phillispburg School District
  • Deb Ceplo Assistant Director of Early Childhood‐Principal/Pemberton Township Schools
  • Anne Hazeldine Supervisor of Early Childhood Education/Keansburg School District
  • Amy Coppinger Supervisor of Early Childhood/Berkeley Township School District