We know that high-quality early education represents one of the best investments that society can make for promoting successful educational outcomes for all children and particularly for children who are at risk (Heckman & Masterov, 2007).
- Early education, if it is done well, can significantly erase or minimize the achievement gaps that exist for many of our children (Barnett, 2011; Camilli, Vargas, Ryan & Barnett, 2010; Pianta, Barnett, Burchinal & Thornburg, 2009).
- The evidence is so overwhelming that 39 states have elected to provide publicly funded prekindergarten for their preschoolers (Barnett, Carolan, Fitzgerald, & Squires, 2011).
- The most recent report published by the National Institute for Early Education Research, The State of Preschool 2011 estimates that these states provided prekindergarten services to 28% of all 4 year-olds in the country (Barnett et al., 2011).
- Unfortunately, Indiana is not one of those states. In the absence of funding and state leadership, Indiana preschoolers have to rely on a patchwork system of services that falls short of the capacity to serve children who need these services most (Indiana Education roundtable, 2012: Spradlin, Conn-Powers, & Wodicka, 2013).
In 2012, we initiated a study to investigate how early education programs in Indiana were doing. We were interested in learning:
- How well our classrooms performed in relation to other states,
- How well our practices aligned with current research evidence documenting effective early education, and
- How well different programs in our state compared to one another.
This study took place in 81 early care and education classrooms from the following Indiana programs:
- 28 Head Start preschools,
- 27 Licensed child care centers,
- 26 Public school preschool/prekindergartens (not including special education).
Early Childhood Center staff made video recordings of all in-class morning activities. Video recordings were analyzed using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (Pianta et al. 2008) and the Emerging Academic Snapshot (Ritchie et al. 2001). These two tools gave us a picture of teacher-child interactions,and the types and frequency of activities and instruction to which children are exposed.Products Videos