Accountability Project

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Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information, view the materials below.


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