Taking Stock: Assessing and Improving Early Childhood Learning and Program Quality

Taking Stock: Assessing and Improving Early Childhood Learning and Program Quality

Unprecedented attention to young children has ushered in a new era for early childhood education. Parents are more concerned than ever before about their children's learning, development, and readiness for school. Early childhood teachers are taking on the challenges of serving all children equitably and well. And policymakers are looking carefully at the outcomes reported for children participating in publicly funded early education programs. Motivated by these concerns and by the growing emphasis on accountability, parents, teachers and policymakers all want more information as they make decisions on how to foster children's early learning and development.

These demands for information come at a time when early childhood educators are uneasy about the effect that increased performance demands may have on young children's development and early childhood practice. At the same time, early educators are aware of the potential of well-designed assessment and evaluation efforts to enhance the credibility of early childhood programs, and support investments in program improvement and expansion. But accountability requires great care. Poorly conceived accountability initiatives can generate misleading feedback, impose onerous burdens, and lead to misguided decisions. And accountability should not stand alone. Linking accountability efforts to program improvement efforts and resources is essential to warrant the effort needed to gather assessment data. Clearly, issues surrounding early childhood accountability and improvement are important, challenging and controversial.

Spotlight on Mental Health

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Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

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How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

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What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

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Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.

Explore Pew’s new and improved
Fiscal 50 interactive

Your state's stats are more accessible than ever with our new and improved Fiscal 50 interactive:

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Learn more about the new and improved Fiscal 50.