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Assessing and Shaping the Impact of Early Childhood Education

NORC’s leadership in the field of early childhood education program design and assessment continues to grow

Parents and educators increasingly see early childhood education as an important driver of later academic and professional achievement. From our groundbreaking HighScope Perry Preschool study through the work conducted by our Early Childhood Research and Practice Collaborative, NORC continues to be a leader and innovator in providing policymakers, education providers, and families with reliable, actionable data on early childhood education.

Launched in 2012, NORC’s National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) was the first national survey in 20 years of the early childcare needs of American families and the availability, quality, and accessibility of the providers meeting those needs. Data from the NSECE has informed decision-making by policymakers and providers alike as they try to meet the evolving needs of American families. As NORC prepares for the 2019 NSECE, many of our efforts have been focused on making the NSECE more usable and accessible for researchers and other early childhood education stakeholders. Those efforts include a series of webinars meant to help researchers better use NSECE data to answer questions and to facilitate the sharing of analysis within the research community as well as between researchers and practitioners. In addition to the webinars, NORC piloted an intensive four-week online course on how to use one of NSECE’s most complex data products to support researchers who want to access and use these rich data on their own. NORC developed the course in partnership with the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the University of Michigan as part of ICPSR’s effort to expand their training offerings for hands-on statistical analysis.

2,842
downloads of NSECE public-use datafiles and documentation by 22 research teams working with NSECE restricted-use data.

The Denver Preschool Program is a taxpayer-funded initiative that attempts to increase access to high-quality early care providers by offering tuition credits to the families of four-year-old children residing in Denver, Colorado, regardless of income. NORC is examining the extent to which participation in the program is associated with increased achievement and behavioral outcomes at kindergarten and beyond. NORC is also conducting the Colorado Early Childhood Workforce Survey. The survey, which gathered data from directors, teachers, and family childcare providers is meant to identify the strengths, gaps, and unmet childcare needs in the workforce to help inform workforce recruitment, retention, and professional development efforts.

Seventy Percent
of directors reported difficulty finding teachers to fill the vacant ECE positions, with vacancies taking an average of 2.5 months to fill.

The Office of Head Start’s Parent, Family, and Community Engagement (PFCE) Framework is meant to enhance the effectiveness of Head Start’s programming by fostering greater parent and caregiver involvement in their children’s education and closer relationships between parents and providers. In collaboration with the National Head Start Association and the Region V Head Start Association, NORC collected and analyzed roughly 700 original narratives in which parents from across the country described their PFCE experiences with their child’s Head Start and Early Head Start program. Based on that analysis, NORC developed an evaluation tool, Parent Gauge, that allows local Head Start and Early Head Start programs to easily assess PFCE through parents’ reports and obtain useful information for ongoing program evaluation and improvement.