In this commentary originally published by New America, Meghan McCormick and Christina Weiland argue that states should make investing in high-quality early childhood and kindergarten programs a priority in their pandemic recovery efforts.
Opportunities for Investing in Equity
This brief summarizes recent findings that show how a lack of access to high-quality summer programs may contribute to disparities in children’s learning and development during the transition to kindergarten. It identifies future research needed to ensure that equity-focused investments in summer learning pay off for children from underserved groups.
Even before the COVID-19 crisis, early care and education providers faced challenges attracting and retaining qualified, well-trained, and diverse early educators — and staff turnover can affect children’s early progress. Three approaches may help improve these workers’ access to professional education, their overall economic well-being, and their sometimes difficult working conditions.
Children in low-income communities are less likely than others to attend programs that improve kindergarten readiness. MDRC has identified two ways to promote more equitable access: Make information about existing high-quality programs easier to understand and improve quality by investing in curricula and professional development.
Expanded eligibility guidelines and flexible funding options can support wider access to child care during the COVID-19 emergency, but only if parents and child care workers know how to navigate them. Agencies can use behavioral science research insights to make communications clear and concise and simplify the application process.
Home Visiting and Coordinated and Integrated Early Childhood Systems
Funders at all levels are investing in programs to support expectant parents and families with young children. MDRC is conducting research in that field in three areas: integrating systems of services that work together, getting families and children the right services, and building evidence about promising models.
This paper analyzes variation in the medium-term effects of the oversubscribed Boston Public Schools prekindergarten program. Prekindergarten gains persisted if kids applied to and won a seat in a higher-quality elementary school.
What Do We Know and What Are We Learning?
There is growing evidence that alignment between preschool and elementary school can help sustain the learning gains that children make in preschool. A new policy brief examines two large-scale, multiyear projects seeking to build rigorous evidence about the promise of aligning instruction from preschool through third grade.
Challenges and Opportunities in Summer Programs for Rising Kindergarten Students
One focus of the Expanding Children’s Early Learning (ExCEL) Network is the potential value of programs to promote school readiness in the months preceding kindergarten. This brief summarizes lessons learned from a six-week pilot program and consultation with practitioners on three implementation issues — recruitment, attendance, and family involvement.
The Impacts of Making Pre-K Count and High 5s on Kindergarten Outcomes
This project tested whether high-quality, aligned math instruction, via an evidence-based curriculum in pre-K and innovative math clubs in kindergarten, could improve children’s outcomes. The effect of two years of enriched math translates into closing more than a quarter of the achievement gap between low-income children and their higher-income peers.