Proceedings from a Working Meeting on School Readiness Research: Guiding the Synthesis of Early Childhood Research. Connecting Research, Practice, and Policy

12/15/2009

  • Researchers, practitioners and policy makers should work together to develop a comprehensive, valid definition of school readiness, with delineation of thresholds in different outcome areas that could be applied across different programs or interventions.
  • As research on intervention dosage emerges, findings can inform programmatic decisions about part-day versus full-day programs; school-year versus full-year programs; and one year versus multiple year programs.
  • To to fully understand costs and educational benefits of early childhood interventions, studies should be designed to include follow-up of short-term effects into school.
  • Criteria should be developed to determine when there is sufficient evidence to take an intervention to scale.

In sum, the recent body of federally-funded early childhood research represents an important advance in the use of more rigorous randomized designs to evaluate the effectiveness of early childhood program enhancements, curricula, and approaches to professional development.  Despite this tremendous progress, many questions remain about how best to train early childhood providers, how to improve school readiness among low-income children, and how to narrow the school readiness gap. Future work must better define goals for children's school readiness, including exploration of what skills are required to enable children to succeed in school rather than falling further behind.  Defining these goals for children will also inform objectives for professional development and early childhood interventions.  In addition, approaches to measuring the school readiness gap in months can provide a more intuitive way of interpreting and judging intervention impacts.  Finally, future research must continue to explore substantive questions about training and implementation, other programmatic issues, and school readiness domains.

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