Proceedings from a Working Meeting on School Readiness Research: Guiding the Synthesis of Early Childhood Research. Overview of Proceedings

12/15/2009

The one-and-a-half-day meeting was divided into four panels.  Each panel focused on a topic that was also the subject of one or more of the invited papers.  For each panel, highlights from the relevant working papers were provided by the author, panel respondents provided commentary, and meeting attendees participated in discussion about the issues raised and future work that might be successful in addressing those issues.

The four panels and their corresponding key topics were:

1.  Examining Children's School Readiness Outcomes: Effects of Enhancements to Early Childhood Programs.  This panel examined evidence on the effectiveness of various instructional practices, interventions, and curricula in early care and education programs in promoting young children's development. The panel looked at effects on children in three broad domains language and literacy, mathematics, and socioemotional development.

Barbara Goodson moderated this session. Three working papers were presented, each one corresponding to one of the domains of school readiness.  Goodson also authored a paper which synthesized key themes across the other three papers and across domains of school readiness (see Appendix B.1).  Carolyn Layzer presented a paper on language and literacy outcomes (Caswell & He, 2008; see Appendix B.2), Herbert Ginsburg and Margaret Clements presented their paper on mathematics outcomes (Ginsburg, Lewis, & Clements, 2008; see Appendix B.3), and Cybele Raver presented her paper on socioemotional outcomes (Raver, 2008; see Appendix B.4).

Following the presentations of the working papers, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn provided remarks as the panel respondent, linking the findings from the three papers in a discussion about what it takes to get children ready for school and the effectiveness of different interventions for narrowing the school readiness gap.

2.  Perspectives on Using Research to Improve Programs. This panel focused on the bridge between research and practice and how research can contribute to early childhood program quality improvement and, ultimately, promote young children's school readiness.  Deborah Leong moderated the session, in which presenters drew on their expertise in utilizing research to inform practice and policy to discuss how well the set of studies that were the focus of this meeting address questions of current interest to programs and where the research needs to go to next to answer those questions more clearly.

Beth Rous began the session with a presentation in which she highlighted key lessons from the latest research seen through the lens of statewide implementation and policy development.  Graciela Italiano-Thomas then discussed her experiences with the intersection of research and policy/practice as the Los Angeles Universal Preschool Executive Director and President and CEO of Washington's Thrive by Five.  Finally, Thomas Schultz gave a presentation focusing on how research has been used to improve programs in the past, challenges in doing so, and next steps for research and program improvement implicated by the emerging research focused on at this meeting.

3.  Strategies for Professional Development of the Early Childhood Workforce.  This panel examined evidence on the effectiveness of professional development at changing teacher practice and instructional skills.  Further, the panel looked at evidence on how changes in teaching relate to young children's school readiness outcomes.  Ivelisse Martinez-Beck moderated the session in which presenters discussed issues of intervention implementation fidelity, workplace and teacher characteristics that may moderate changes in teacher behavior, quality improvement approaches, and strategies to train coaches and mentors.

First, Lisa Klein presented highlights of the working paper on early childhood professional development approaches (Klein & Gomby, 2008; see Appendix C).  Robert Pianta served as a respondent, emphasizing the importance of supporting teachers and the classroom practices we know promote children's development, in addition to the particular curriculum or intervention model through which those practices are implemented.  As the second respondent on the panel, Kathryn Tout discussed her research implicating the important role of teachers' readiness for change and features of providers of professional development in moderating changes in teachers' behavior.

4.  Approaches to Measuring and Narrowing the School Readiness Gap.  This panel explored conceptual and methodological issues related to the ways the school readiness gap is represented, measured, and used to judge the effectiveness of early childhood care and education programs. Stephanie Jones served as the moderator for the panel and provided summary comments.

Jean Layzer began the session by presenting highlights of her paper (Layzer & Price, 2008; see Appendix D) which describes the school readiness gap, outlines progress being made to narrow the gap, and discusses alternative approaches to judging the effectiveness of interventions.  As first respondent on the panel, John Love raised a series of critical questions for the field to consider in trying to better understand the school readiness gap and meet the goal of raising low-income children's level of proficiency and skill in various domains of school readiness.  Next, respondent Margaret Burchinal discussed some of the areas where we can focus our attention in the future, such as on infants and toddlers, determining the skills children need and how to teach them (as opposed to focusing on the gap), and better understanding how we take early childhood programs to scale effectively.

To close the meeting, Martha Zaslow provided a synthesis of themes and next steps, emphasizing how the studies focused on for this meeting offer cause for celebration and contribute numerous encouraging developments to the knowledge base, while also pointing to challenges and gaps where there is need for further work.

View full report

Preview
Download

"index.pdf" (pdf, 307.32Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"apa.pdf" (pdf, 78.45Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"apb.pdf" (pdf, 401.85Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"apc.pdf" (pdf, 288.78Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"apd.pdf" (pdf, 90.04Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"ape.pdf" (pdf, 190.7Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"apf.pdf" (pdf, 68.04Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®