McCormick’s work uses experimental and quasi-experimental approaches to estimate the impacts of school- and home-based programs and policies on children’s academic, behavioral, and social-emotional outcomes, with a focus on identifying programs and policies that promote equitable opportunities and outcomes for children and families living in poverty. She is the project director and a co-principal investigator on the Expanding Children’s Early Learning (ExCEL) P-3: Promoting Sustained Gains from Preschool to Third Grade study. She is the principal investigator on a randomized controlled trial of Child First, a home visiting program for high-risk families and the principal investigator for a study on equitable access to early childhood education programs. She collaborated as a co-principal investigator with colleagues at New York University on an Institute of Education Sciences (IES)-funded follow-up study of the social-emotional learning program INSIGHTS into Children’s Temperament. Her work at MDRC also includes leading analyses on the Supporting Healthy Marriage daily diary study and identifying promising family-strengthening interventions for parents involved in the criminal justice system as part of the Building Bridges and Bonds study. She received her doctorate in applied psychology and quantitative methods from New York University in 2015, where she was an IES predoctoral fellow and a National Academy of Education/Spencer dissertation fellow. She was awarded the IES Outstanding Predoctoral Fellow Award in 2016, and later received the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness Early Career Award in 2020. McCormick holds a bachelor’s degree in public affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
Evidence from Acelero Learning Head Start ProgramsMay, 2023
There is a lack of consistent evidence on the extent to which the pandemic affected preschool-age children. This brief summarizes the initial results from a study led by MDRC that is examining the post-pandemic language, literacy, math, and executive functioning skills of children enrolled in Acelero Learning programs.CommentaryMay, 2023
In this commentary originally published in Route Fifty, Mervett Hefyan and Meghan McCormick discuss three ways states can strengthen home visiting services to address the effects of the pandemic on young children and to boost parental health as well.Issue FocusMay, 2023
In a blog post originally published by New America, Meghan McCormick and Christina Weiland offer four lessons for states and localities interested in improving children’s access to high-quality public prekindergarten programs.Working Paper
Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial of Child FirstMarch, 2023
Home visiting programs, which improve children’s development and strengthen caregivers’ and families’ well-being, faced many challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper examines a program that provided psychotherapeutic, parent-child services during the pandemic and the effects of delivering those services online or in a hybrid format at that time.CommentaryAugust, 2022
In this commentary originally published by the Fordham Institute, Meghan McCormick explains why it is critical to strengthen existing early education assessments in order to build better evidence on the impacts of preschool on children.CommentaryMay, 2022
In this commentary originally published in The Hechinger Report, Meghan McCormick and JoAnn Hsueh explain how the surprising findings from a study of the Tennessee state-run, voluntary pre-k program highlight the need to collect better data so we can understand what really works.Brief
Evidence from Child FirstMay, 2022
This brief presents results from a proof-of-concept exercise that examined the potential benefits of using predictive analytics to improve service delivery by Child First, a program that provides therapeutic support to families with young children. The information may be useful for other organizations interested in implementing these cutting-edge tools.CommentaryMay, 2022
Incorporating the perspectives of early childhood educators is key to strengthening pre-K assessment systems. In this piece originally published by New America, Meghan McCormick offers insights from pre-K teachers about how to make assessments more equitable, relevant, and useful.Brief
Leveraging Naturally Occurring Lotteries to Examine a District-Wide Rollout of Instructional Alignment Across Pre-K and KindergartenApril, 2022
This study investigates whether naturally occurring lotteries, which approximate random assignment, can be used to evaluate the long-term effects of instructional alignment—standards, curricula, and assessments that build on one another from pre-K to elementary school—on children in Boston Public Schools. It concludes that they can.CommentaryFebruary, 2022
In this commentary originally published by New America, Samuel Maves and Meghan McCormick describe the lessons that state advocates and policymakers learned from implementing pre-K assessment systems. These lessons were discussed during an event cohosted by New America, the Alliance for Early Success, and MDRC.Brief
Building Better Evidence on Pre-K Programs by Assessing the Full Range of Children’s SkillsFebruary, 2022
Recent research has highlighted a pattern of “fadeout” of positive academic effects of pre-K as children progress into elementary school. This brief looks at examples of less frequently measured types of skills that pre-K programs may help boost in the short term and sustain over the longer term.CommentaryNovember, 2021
In this commentary originally published by New America, Meghan McCormick and Alyssa Ratledge explain that reliable child care is critical to the success of student-parents in community college. They offer three evidence-driven approaches states and colleges can take to better support student-parents.Commentary
Why It’s Critical to Improve Pre-K Assessments to Support Equitable Early LearningNovember, 2021
Policymakers are considering historic investments in high-quality, universal pre-K. In this commentary originally published by New America, JoAnn Hsueh and Meghan McCormick explain why and how researchers, districts, and states should make prekindergarten assessments of children more equitable, useful, and actionable.Brief
A Review of the LiteratureSeptember, 2021
When a parent is jailed or incarcerated, it has direct consequences for children and families. Family-strengthening programs seek to maintain healthy relationships between such parents and their children. They have the potential to reduce the harmful effects of incarceration on families. This brief describes six recommendations for family-strengthening programs.CommentaryJune, 2021
In this commentary originally published in Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, two MDRC researchers and their colleagues describe how Head Start programs can invest federal relief funds to help parents of children in Head Start advance toward their economic goals.CommentaryJune, 2021
In this commentary originally published by New America, Meghan McCormick and Shira Mattera describe how investing greater resources in community-based programs will be critical for building an equitable universal pre-K system that provides high-quality experiences to all children.Report
A Review of the LiteratureMay, 2021
More than 5 million American children under the age of 18, a disproportionate number of whom are Black or Latino, have had a parent incarcerated. This report reviews studies about promising programs that seek to maintain and build healthy relationships between parents who are incarcerated and their children.Issue Focus
The Case for Investing Pandemic Relief Funds in Pre-K and Kindergarten Summer ProgramsApril, 2021
In this commentary originally published by New America, Meghan McCormick and Amena Sengal argue that states and districts should allocate some pandemic relief dollars to strengthening summer learning for pre-k and kindergarten students.Issue FocusMarch, 2021
In this commentary originally published by New America, Meghan McCormick and Christina Weiland argue that states should make investing in high-quality early childhood and kindergarten programs a priority in their pandemic recovery efforts.Brief
Opportunities for Investing in EquityMarch, 2021
This brief summarizes recent findings that show how a lack of access to high-quality summer programs may contribute to disparities in children’s learning and development during the transition to kindergarten. It identifies future research needed to ensure that equity-focused investments in summer learning pay off for children from underserved groups.BriefOctober, 2020
Children in low-income communities are less likely than others to attend programs that improve kindergarten readiness. MDRC has identified two ways to promote more equitable access: Make information about existing high-quality programs easier to understand and improve quality by investing in curricula and professional development.Brief
What We Know and What We Are LearningSeptember, 2020
MDRC is leading several studies that measure the quality of early childhood education classrooms in innovative ways. This policy brief focuses on instructional quality, highlighting promising practices that seek to promote school readiness and sustained academic success among low-income children.Issue FocusJuly, 2020
Individual growth modeling allows researchers to examine individual research subjects’ trajectories over time. This post describes how the approach was used to test whether the growth in students’ academic skills slowed down during the summer between preschool and kindergarten, and how that pattern varied among students of different demographic groups.MethodologyAugust, 2019
Part I of this two-part post discussed MDRC’s work with practitioners to construct valid and reliable measures of implementation fidelity to an early childhood curriculum. Part II examines how those data can reveal associations between levels of fidelity and gains in children’s academic skills.Brief
What Do We Know and What Are We Learning?July, 2019
There is growing evidence that alignment between preschool and elementary school can help sustain the learning gains that children make in preschool. A new policy brief examines two large-scale, multiyear projects seeking to build rigorous evidence about the promise of aligning instruction from preschool through third grade.MethodologyDecember, 2018
Observation tools allow researchers to rate practitioners’ use of a program or curriculum according to the time spent on its components and how they were implemented. Reflections on Methodology explains how researchers and model developers can collaborate to develop useful assessment tools and the benefits and challenges involved.Brief
Introducing ExCEL P-3, a Study from the Expanding Children’s Early Learning NetworkJuly, 2017
The ExCEL Network, a collaboration of researchers, preschool providers, and local officials, is exploring how benefits of early childhood interventions persist. The ExCEL P-3 project examines whether one preschool program, reinforced by a system-wide alignment of instruction into elementary school, has impacts on a range of skills through third grade.ReportSeptember, 2010
An important first hurdle for voluntary programs is recruiting and retaining eligible participants. This report describes how ten Supporting Healthy Marriage programs focused on developing effective marketing strategies, keeping couples engaged in the program, and building management systems. These efforts resulted in encouraging early levels of participation by low-income couples.
Publications for which McCormick was lead author:
McCormick, Meghan P., Robin Neuhaus, Erin E. O’Connor, Hope I. White, E. Parham Horn, Samantha Harding, Elise Cappella, and Sandee McClowry. 2021. “Long-Term Effects of Social-Emotional Learning on Academic Skills: Evidence from a Randomized Trial of INSIGHTS.” Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness. doi: 10.1080/19345747.2020.1831117.
McCormick, Meghan P., Christina Weiland, JoAnn Hsueh, Mirjana Pralica, Amanda K. Weissman, Lillie Moffett, Catherine Snow, and Jason Sachs. 2021. “Is Skill Type the Key to the Pre-K Fadeout Puzzle? Differential Associations Between Enrollment in PreK and Constrained and Unconstrained Skills Across Kindergarten.” Child Development. doi: 10.1111/cdev.13520.
McCormick, Meghan P., Mirjana Pralica, Paola Guerrero-Rosada, Christina Weiland, Joann Hsueh, Barbara Condliffe, Jason Sachs, and Catherine Snow. 2020. “Can Center-Based Care Reduce Summer Slowdown Prior to Kindergarten? Exploring Variation by Family Income, Race/Ethnicity, and Dual Language Learner Status.” American Education Research Journal. doi: 10.3102/0002831220944908.
McCormick, Meghan P., Christina Weiland, JoAnn Hsueh, Michelle Maier, Rama Hagos, Catherine Snow, Nicole Leacock, and Laura Schick. 2020. “Promoting Content-Enriched Alignment across the Early Grades: A Study of Policies and Practices in the Boston Public Schools.” Early Childhood Research Quarterly 52(3), 57-73. doi: 10.1016/j.ecresq.2019.06.012.
McCormick, Meghan P., Amanda Ketner Weissman, Christina Weiland, JoAnn Hsueh, Jason Sachs, and Catherine Snow. 2020. “Time Well Spent: Parents’ Home-Based Learning Practices and Children’s Academic Skills.” Developmental Psychology 56(4), 710-726. doi: 10.1037/dev0000891.
McCormick, Meghan P., Robin Neuhaus, E. Parham Horn, Erin E. O’Connor, Hope I. White, Samantha Harding, Elise Cappella, and Sandee McClowry. 2019. “Long-Term Effects of Social–Emotional Learning on Receipt of Special Education and Grade Retention: Evidence from a Randomized Trial of INSIGHTS.” AERA Open 5(3), 2332858. doi: 10.1177/2332858419867290.
McCormick, Meghan P., Hope White, E. Parham Horn, Rachel Lacks, Erin O’Connor, Elise Cappella, and Sandee McClowry. 2018. “Instructional Support and Academic Skills: Impacts of INSIGHTS in Classrooms with Shy Children.” Early Education and Development 29(5), 691-715. doi: 10.1080/10409289.2018.1435943.
McCormick, Meghan P., JoAnn Hsueh, Christine Merrilees, Patricia Chou, and E. Mark Cummings. 2017. “Moods, Stressors, and Severity of Marital Conflict: A Daily Diary Study of Low‐Income Families.” Family Relations 66(3), 425-440. doi: 10.1111/fare.12258.
McCormick, Meghan P., Erin O’Connor, E. Parham Horn. 2017. “Can Teacher-Child Relationships Alter the Effects of Early Socioeconomic Status on Achievement in Middle Childhood?” Journal of School Psychology 64, 76-92. doi: 10.1016/j.jsp.2017.05.001.
McCormick, Meghan P., Elise Cappella, Erin O'Connor, Jennifer L. Hill, Sandee McClowry. 2016. “Do Effects of Social-Emotional Learning Programs Vary by Level of Parent Participation? Evidence from the Randomized Trial of INSIGHTS.” Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness 9(3), 364-394. doi: 10.1080/19345747.2015.1105892.
McCormick, Meghan P., Erin E. O’Connor, Sophie P. Barnes. 2016. “Mother-Child Attachment Styles and Math and Reading Skills in Middle Childhood: Exploring Longitudinal Mechanisms in a National Sample.” Early Childhood Research Quarterly 36(3), 295-306. doi: 10.1016/j.ecresq.2016.01.011.
McCormick, Meghan P., Elise Cappella, Erin E. O’Connor, and Sandee G. McClowry. 2015. “Social-Emotional Learning and Academic Achievement: Using Causal Methods to Explore Classroom-Level Mechanisms in Early Elementary School.” AERA Open 1(3), 1-26. doi: 10.1177/2332858415603959.
McCormick, Meghan P., Elise Cappella, Erin E. O’Connor, and Sandee G. McClowry. 2015. “Context Matters for Social-Emotional Learning in Early Elementary School: Examining Variation in Program Impact by Dimensions of School Climate. American Journal of Community Psychology 56(1-2), 101-110. doi: 10.1007/s10464-015-9733-z.
McCormick, Meghan P., Elise Cappella, Erin E. O’Connor, and Sandee G. McClowry. 2015. “Getting a Good Start in School: Effects of INSIGHTS on Children with High Maintenance Temperaments in Kindergarten and First Grade.” Early Childhood Research Quarterly 30, 128-139. doi:10.1016/j.ecresq.2014.10.006.
McCormick, Meghan P., and Elise Cappella. 2015. “Conceptualizing Academic Norms in Middle School: A Social Network Perspective.” Journal of Early Adolescence 35(4), 441-466. doi: 10.1177/027243161453509.
McCormick, Meghan P., and Erin E. O’Connor. 2015. “Teacher-Child Relationship Quality and Academic Achievement in Elementary School: Does Gender Matter?” Journal of Educational Psychology 107(2), 502-516. doi: 10.1037/a0037457.
McCormick, Meghan P., Elise Cappella, Diane L. Hughes, and Emily K. Gallagher. 2014. “Feasible, Rigorous, and Relevant: Validation of a Measure of Friendship Homophily for Diverse Classrooms.” Journal of Early Adolescence. Advanced online publication: doi: 10.1177/0272431614547051.
McCormick, Meghan P., Ashley R. Turbeville, Sophie P. Barnes, and Sandee G. McClowry. 2014. “Challenging Temperament, Student-Teacher Relationships, and Behavior Problems in Low-Income Children: A Longitudinal Examination of Goodness of Fit.” Early Education and Development 25(8), 1198-1218. doi: 10.1080/10409289.2014.915676.
McCormick, Meghan P., Erin E. O’Connor, Elise Cappella, and Sandee G. McClowry. 2013. “Teacher-Child Relationships and Academic Achievement in Kindergarten and First Grade: A Multilevel Propensity Score Model Approach.” Journal of School Psychology 51(5), 611-624. doi: 10.1016/j.jsp.2013.05.001.
McCormick, Meghan P., Erin E. O’Connor, Elise Cappella, and Sandee G. McClowry. 2013. “Parent Involvement, Emotional Support, and Behavior Problems in Kindergarten: An Ecological Approach.” The Elementary School Journal 114(2), 277-300. doi: 10.1086/673200.
Other co-authored publications:
Cappella, Elise, Diana L. Hughes, and Meghan P. McCormick. 2016. “Cross-Race Friendships at the Transition to Middle School: The Role of Classroom Composition and Teacher Support.” Journal of Early Adolescence. doi: 10.1177/0272431616648454. Cappella, Elise, Erin E. O’Connor, Meghan P. McCormick, Ashley R. Turbeville, Ashleigh J. Collins, and Sandee G. McClowry. 2015. “Classwide Efficacy of INSIGHTS: Observed Student Behaviors and Teacher Practices in Kindergarten and First Grade.” The Elementary School Journal 116(2), 217-241. doi: 0013-5984/2015/11602-0003.
Guerrero-Rosada, Paola, Christina Weiland, Meghan P. McCormick, JoAnn Hsueh, Jason Sachs, Catherine Snow, and Michelle Maier. 2021. “Process Quality and Children’s Language, Math, and Executive Function Gains in Prekindergarten: A Replication and Extension Study. Early Childhood Research Quarterly 54(1), 1-12. doi: 10.1016/j.ecresq.2020.07.009.
Han, Jinjoo, Erin E. O’Connor, Meghan P. McCormick, and Sandee G. McClowry. 2017. “Child Temperament and Home-Based Parent Involvement at Kindergarten Entry: Evidence from a Low-Income, Urban Sample.” Early Education and Development 28(5), 590-606. doi: 10.1080/10409289.2017.1279531.
Han, Jinjoo, Erin E. O’Connor, and Meghan P. McCormick. 2020. “The Role of Elementary School and Home Quality in Supporting Sustained Effects of Pre-K.” Journal of Educational Psychology 112(5), 956-972. doi: 10.1037/edu0000390.
Harding, Jessica F., Dana McCoy, and Meghan P. McCormick. 2020. “Building Policies to Support Effective Transitions from PreK to Elementary School.” Introduction to the Early Childhood Research Quarterly 52(3), 1-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ecresq.2019.12.007.
Horn, E. Parham, Meghan P. McCormick, Erin E. O’Connor, Sandee G. McClowry, and Frances C. Hogan. 2021. “Trajectories of Teacher-Child Relationships Across Kindergarten and First Grade: The Influence of Gender and Disruptive Behaviors,” Early Childhood Research Quarterly 55(2), 107-118.
Hsueh, JoAnn, Meghan P. McCormick, Christine E Merrilees, Patricia Chou, and E. Mark Cummings. 2018. “Marital Interactions, Family Intervention, and Disagreements: A Daily Diary Study in a Low-Income Sample.” Family Process 57(2), 359-379. doi: 10.1111/famp.12296.
Lu, Ying, Sharon L. Weinberg, Meghan P. McCormick. 2020 “Test-Taking for Gifted and Talented Kindergarten: Underscoring the Importance of Outreach,” Gifted & Talented Quarterly 64(4), 259-274. doi: 10.1177/0016986220941587.
Merrilees, Christine E., Meghan P. McCormick, JoAnn Hsueh, Patricia Chou, and E. Mark Cummings. 2018. “Adolescent Emotional Responses to Interparental Interactions: A Daily Diary Approach with a Diverse Sample.” Journal of Child and Family Studies 27(5), 1460-1472. doi: 10.1007/s10826-017-0983-2.
Neuhaus, Robin M., Meghan P. McCormick, and Erin E. O’Connor. 2021. “The Mediating Role of Teacher-Child Dependency in the Relationship Between Early Mother-Child Attachment and Behaviors in Middle Childhood. Attachment & Human Development. doi: 10.1080/14616734.2020.1751989.
O'Connor, Erin .E., Elise Cappella, Meghan P. McCormick, and Sandee G. McClowry. 2014. “Enhancing Academic Development of Shy Children in Kindergarten and First Grade: A Test of the Efficacy of INSIGHTS.” School Psychology Review 43(3), 239-259.
O’Connor, Erin E., Marc A. Scott, Meghan P. McCormick, and Sharon Weinberg. 2014. “Maternal Attachment and Behavior Problems. The Role of the Subsequent Caregiving Environment in Middle Childhood.” Attachment and Human Development 16(6), 590-612. doi: 10.1080/14616734.2014.937817.
O’Connor, Erin E., Elise Cappella, Meghan P. McCormick, and Sandee G. McClowry. 2014. “An Examination of the Efficacy of INSIGHTS in Enhancing the Academic and Behavioral Development of Children in Early Grades.” Journal of Educational Psychology 106(4), 1156-1169. doi: 10.1037/a0036615.
Perry, Justin C., Eric W. Wallace, and Meghan P. McCormick. 2018. “Making My Future Work: Evaluation of a New College and Career Readiness Curriculum.” Youth & Society 50(6), 841-866. doi: 10.1177/0044118X16658221.
Rochester, Shana E., Christina Weiland, Rebecca Unterman, Meghan McCormick, Lillie Moffett. 2019. “The Little Kids Down the Hall: Associations Between School Climate, PreK Classroom Quality, and PreK Children’s Gains in Receptive Language and Executive Function.” Early Childhood Research Quarterly 48(3), 84-97. doi: 10.1016/j.ecresq.2019.02.008.
Weiland, Christina, Meghan P. McCormick, Shira Mattera, and Michelle Maier. 2018. “Preschool Curricula and Professional Development Features for Getting to High-Quality Implementation at Scale: A Comparative Analysis across Five Trials.” AERA Open 4(1). doi: 10.1177/2332858418757735.
INSIGHTS: Examining Effects of Social-Emotional Learning in Early Education on Outcomes Through High School and Beyond
INSIGHTS into Children’s Temperament, a comprehensive, school-based preventive intervention, supports students’ social-emotional development in order to improve their behaviors, social-emotional well-being, and academic skills during the transition to elementary school. Prior research...Dina A. R. Israel, Michelle S. Manno, Charles Michalopoulos, Rebecca Behrmann, Meghan McCormick, Patrizia Mancini, Viktoriya Syrov, Xavier Alemañy, Diego Quezada, Emily Marano
The Testing Identified Elements for Success in Fatherhood Programs (Fatherhood TIES) project hopes to answer the question: What are the elements of fatherhood programs that lead to better outcomes for the fathers who take part in them?
Fatherhood programs are designed to help fathers connect with their children, improve fathers’...JoAnn Hsueh, Amena Sengal, Caroline Schultz, Emily Hanno, Ilana Blum, Katie Beal, Mallory Undestad, Marta Benito-Gomez, Meghan McCormick, Samantha Wulfsohn, Sharon Huang, Ximena Portilla, Brenna Healy
The Measures for Early Success Initiative aims to reimagine the landscape of early learning assessments for three- to five-year-olds in pre-K so that more equitable data can be used to meaningfully support and strengthen early learning experiences for all young children.Dina A. R. Israel, Xavier Alemañy, Rebecca Behrmann, Emily Brennan, Virginia Knox, Michelle S. Manno, Emily Marano, Meghan McCormick, Charles Michalopoulos, Frieda Molina, Diego Quezada, Keri West, Samantha Wulfsohn, Donna Wharton-Fields
Over the last three decades, MDRC has established itself as a leader in providing technical assistance to organizations that deliver services to fathers through such projects as Parents’ Fair Share,...
MDRC has partnered with Acelero Learning, Inc., to form a research-practice partnership that aims to strengthen Head Start programming across the country. Acelero Learning, Inc., is a national network of Head Start programs that provides Head Start and Early Head Start services to three- and four-year-old children and their families. Through...
Child First is a comprehensive, home-based, therapeutic intervention that targets young children and families with multiple risks and connects them with the services they need to support healthy child development. An earlier randomized controlled trial of Child First in one location showed that the program improved children’s social-emotional skills and language...JoAnn Hsueh, Sharon Huang, Meghan McCormick, Michelle Maier, Rebecca Unterman, Desiree Principe Alderson, Barbara Condliffe, Amena Sengal, Sonia Drohojowska, Ilana Blum, Marissa Strassberger, Marie-Andrée Somers, Noemi Altman, Alexandra Bernardi, Mirjana Pralica, Mervett Hefyan, Jálynn Castleman-Smith, Mallory Undestad, Samantha Xia, Emily Davies, Sharon Rowser, Amy Taub
With broad support across the political spectrum, states and localities throughout the country are expanding preschool programs for low-income children. While the public will is strong and the experience to date is encouraging, there is a need for firmer evidence on the most cost-effective ways to produce lasting impacts for children, especially when programs operate...JoAnn Hsueh, Virginia Knox, Desiree Principe Alderson, Barbara S. Goldman, Erika Lundquist, Charles Michalopoulos, Electra Small, Kristen Faucetta , Meghan McCormick, Noemi Altman, Sharon Rowser, Amy Taub, Helen Lee
The Supporting Healthy Marriage project is the first large-scale, multisite, multiyear, rigorous test of marriage education programs for low-income married couples. Supported by the Administration for Children and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the project is motivated...