MDRC is looking at programs to enhance the quality of preschool settings through innovative teacher-training and evidence-based strategies, in order to promote low-income children’s social and emotional development and behavioral and academic readiness for school.

The Latest

Communities of color and those with high poverty rates have disproportionately few high-quality options for early education. In this study, preschool teachers were interviewed about equity and inclusion in their classrooms. The findings suggest that curricula and professional development could provide more guidance on incorporating children’s lived experience in classroom learning.


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.

Key Documents

Exploratory Findings from the Head Start CARES Demonstration

This report suggests that evidence-based approaches can improve 3-year-olds’ social-emotional competence in mixed-age preschool classrooms. While the findings are promising, further research is needed to confirm the results and to better understand how these benefits are generated.

Issue Focus

MDRC’s Portfolio in Early Childhood Education

Today, leaders from across the political spectrum are calling for new investments in early childhood education. But many important questions remain about how to make the most of the promise of preschool and related interventions. MDRC’s portfolio of research and demonstration projects is tackling some of the biggest ones.


Issue Focus

A Summary of Impact and Implementation Findings from Head Start CARES

This two-page issue focus summarizes the main findings from Head Start CARES, a test of three distinct classroom-based approaches to enhancing children’s social-emotional development: Incredible Years Teacher Training Program, Preschool PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies), and Tools of the Mind–Play.