Tools for Implementing Evidence-Based Early Childhood Curricula

This interactive guide and the accompanying, full toolkit are designed for school-based and community-based programs interested in implementing evidence-based early childhood curricula. The guide provides practical guidelines and tools for four stages of implementation:

  • Preparing the system
  • Hiring and training coaches
  • Getting teachers ready to implement the curriculum as intended
  • Providing ongoing monitoring

The resources in this guide are derived from the technical assistance MDRC has provided to coaches and programs in several large-scale studies that have evaluated early childhood supplemental curricula and found positive effects on children’s outcomes. They included Foundations of Learning, a replication study of a classroom behavior-management curriculum; Head Start CARES, a study of three social-emotional curricula; and Making Pre-K Count, which examined the short- and long-term effects of a math curriculum. Programs interested in using these resources can pull out individual tools or guides that meet their specific needs.

Download the Toolkit

Preparing the System

Choosing the right curriculum for your program

When choosing an evidence-based curriculum for your program, try to find something that fits your program’s needs. Consider all aspects of the program including children and family needs, teacher needs, and larger program needs.

Program Needs Action Planning Table and Questionnaire

Use these sample questions and table to summarize what your program needs and how a new curriculum can address those needs.

Making the most of leaders’ support

The public commitment of program leaders can help get staff members ready to implement the new curriculum. Leaders need to send positive messages to the staff, provide day-to-day support for implementation, and build their own knowledge.

Leader Checklist

Keep track of the things you can do to build excitement and teacher investment. Use this checklist as a guide.

Building a Coaching Team

Finding and training coaches

Hire coaches and train them before teachers start implementing the new curriculum, so they are ready to support teachers’ learning right from the start.

Coach Self-Assessment

Adapt this coach self-assessment tool and use it before coach training (to identify areas to focus on) and afterward (to assess what coaches learned).

Coach Training Content

Use this sample overview to get ideas for topics and learning goals for your coach training.

Supervising coaches and providing ongoing support

Supervision and support allow coaches to take stock of how implementation and coaching have been going and to get assistance in their work.

Coach Supervision Strategies

Use these strategies to make the most of your supervision sessions with coaches.

Getting Teachers Ready to Implement the Curriculum

Training teachers

Give teachers the guidance, resources, and training they need. Teachers will get the most out of training if you create a meaningful and active learning experience.

Sample Training Agenda

Adapt this sample agenda to plan a training session that incorporates opportunities for learning, doing, and reflecting.

Sample Training Invitation

Use this sample teacher training invitation and adapt it so that it effectively communicates details about your training.

Teacher Training Logistics Form

Use this logistics template to keep track of details as you plan your teacher training.

Teacher Training Task Timeline

Use this sample timeline to keep track of who will be responsible for the activities that will prepare you for your training.

Coaching teachers

Coaching gives each teacher an individual professional development experience focused on getting that teacher ready to implement the new curriculum.

Strategies for Different Stages of Change

Use these strategies to calibrate your coaching approach based on how ready the lead and assistant teachers are to change.

Coaching Methods to Foster the Learning Relationship

Select coaching strategies based on where teachers are in the learning process and the extent to which they prefer to take the lead.

Observation Guide

Use this observation guide to set a strategy with teachers and to plan what the coach will observe during in-classroom coaching.

Note-Taking Template

Use this template to take notes during the in-classroom session, so the coach can keep track of goals, action steps, and observations.

Coaching Meeting Checklist

Use this checklist and accompanying questions to make sure the coach covers important content over the course of the meeting.

Email Templates

Use these templates for the coach to create emails reminding teachers about upcoming coaching sessions and following up after sessions.

Providing Ongoing Monitoring

Using data

Use data to inform and improve training, and to determine how best to buttress teachers’ implementation.

Teacher Training Observation Form

Use this teacher training observation form to collect objective data about facilities, technology, training content, and teacher engagement.

Developing a process for program monitoring and improvement

Develop a program monitoring and program improvement process that encourages staff members to grow and learn and allows you to target coaching efforts.

Data Monitoring Process Template

Use this template to make a plan for how you will monitor your data. You can adapt the template to your own program needs to help you determine who will be responsible for the process and to ensure that the team agrees on goals and procedures.

Wulfsohn, Samantha, Amena Sengal, and Shira Kolnik Mattera. 2021. “Tools for Implementing Evidence-Based Early Childhood Curricula.” New York: MDRC.