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Quality prekindergarten can help provide our nation’s children with the skills they need to succeed in school and later in life. As a result, states have begun to invest millions of dollars for state-funded early education programs. And they need to know if those investments are achieving the desired outcomes.
Pew launched the National Early Childhood Accountability Task Force in 2005. Bringing together leading experts in child development, early education and state policy to the project seeks to help states assess programs and use the results to help improve early education.
The Task Force is also supported by the Foundation for Child Development, and the Joyce Foundation.
In October 2007, the Task Force, chaired by Dr. Sharon Lynn Kagan, professor and associate dean at Columbia University’s Teachers College, released its report “Taking Stock: Assessing and Improving Early Childhood Learning and Program Quality,” which provides a set of recommendations to guide state accountability planning, development and implementation efforts. The Task Force report also includes guidance to help states set and review standards for early childhood programs, select appropriate measures and assessment tools and report and use accountability data. With proper accountability systems in place, states will be able to chart progress and appropriately improve programs to ensure our young children receive the education they need to succeed.
At the core of the Task Force are four approaches that states can use to collect data and report on program performance and child learning. These different approaches allow states to customize an accountability system to meet their particular needs. For example, one methodology would be appropriate if a state simply wants to know how many children are ready for kindergarten, without determining the effectiveness of particular preschools. More complex options assess the quality of each local program, and the effectiveness and impact of specific types of state investments. The report describes each approach in detail, including specific policy questions it addresses, what data are to be collected, designs for data collection, how assessment information can be used to improve programs, and key challenges and safeguards that need to be adopted to prevent misuse of assessment information.
Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information, view the materials below.
Nov 13, 2007 - Report describes the Head Start National Reporting System as a possible model for systems aimed at assessing and monitoring the performance of preschool programs.
View: Full Report (Adobe PDF)
Oct 31, 2007 - A report from The National Early Childhood Accountability Task Force that details their final set of recommendations for state early childhood accountability systems, and for linking such efforts to standards-based assessment efforts in kindergarten and the primary grades.
Aug 11, 2007 - Report explores English Language Learner (ELL) assessment challenges and strategies utilized to date, as well as some recommendations and policy implications for the development of more comprehensive and integrated systems of assessment for ELL children.
Jul 03, 2007 - Report discusses the measurement of child outcomes in the context of evaluating the effectiveness of preschool programs for children.
Sep 25, 2006 - Paper focuses on the challenges that confront those who would establish a successful early childhood accountability system.
Jun 19, 2006 - Report presents the research designs and primary findings of several recently completed or ongoing studies of Head Start, child care, state pre-k, and other widely available ECE program types.
Jun 19, 2006 - Overview of the state-level content standards and the mandatory statewide assessments in all 50 states for kindergarten, first grade and second grade.
Jan 12, 2006 - Paper describes efforts by large private non-profit and for-profit early childhood organizations to use data from assessments of children’s learning and program quality for management purposes.
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