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.
More children spend time in preschool now than a decade ago, but not all of them get educational programs of the same quality. This brief explores how to put new classroom curricula in place across multiple schools to bolster classroom quality, instructional practices, and children’s skills.
What We Know and What We Are Learning
MDRC is leading several studies that measure the quality of early childhood education classrooms in innovative ways. This policy brief focuses on instructional quality, highlighting promising practices that seek to promote school readiness and sustained academic success among low-income children.
Assessing Higher Achievement’s Out-of-School Expansion Efforts
The intensive program for middle school students was successfully replicated in three new cities, significantly improving grades after two years. The findings suggest that Higher Achievement could be a model nationwide to help close the learning gap between children born into poverty and their middle-class peers.
Higher Achievement, which serves fifth- through eighth-graders, is an effective after-school and summer program that improved middle school students’ math and reading test scores and the academic quality of many students’ high schools. These short-term gains did not translate into impacts on the types of colleges that students attended.
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.
How Classroom Management Training Can Help Teachers
Foundations of Learning provided training and in-class support to teachers to help guide children’s behavior and emotional development. In Newark, NJ, the program improved teachers’ classroom management and productivity, reduced children’s conflict with peers, and increased children’s engagement. A year later, few effects for children were sustained as they entered kindergarten, but teachers were still engaged in positive practices.
This report presents first-year results from the Middle School Mathematics Professional Development Impact Study, sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences. The professional development programs for seventh-grade math teachers had an impact on one measure of teacher practice but no effects on teachers’ knowledge or student achievement.
Early Findings from New York City’s Conditional Cash Transfer Program
Targeted toward low-income families in six high-poverty New York City communities, Opportunity NYC-Family Rewards offers cash payments tied to efforts and achievements in children’s education, family preventive health care practices, and parents’ employment. In its first two years, the program substantially reduced poverty and material hardship and had positive results in improving some education, health-related, and work-related outcomes.