School choice systems can be complex and confusing for low-income families. In the search for solutions, researchers and policymakers may have overlooked lessons from other policy arenas. This issue focus suggests strategies from MDRC’s experience designing and evaluating interventions to support low-income people’s decision making in arenas outside P-12 choice systems.
Preliminary Kindergarten Impacts of the Making Pre-K Count and High 5s Programs
Can children’s math skills be strengthened in pre-K and kindergarten, and can such improvements have longer-term effects? This preliminary analysis examines the cumulative effects of two early math programs and demonstrates that this enhanced experience can have modest, positive impacts on children’s math and executive function skills in kindergarten.
Improving Math Instruction in New York City
An evidence-based preschool math curriculum called Building Blocks, combined with ongoing professional development, was compared with “business as usual” pre-K programs across 69 public schools and community-based organizations. This report contains interim findings on the implementation of the model, the amount and quality of its math instruction, and children’s learning outcomes.
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.
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.
The Importance of Evidence
In this essay, adapted from remarks made to the Growth Philanthropy Network/Social Impact Exchange 2014 Conference on Scaling Impact, MDRC President Gordon Berlin explains why developing reliable evidence of effectiveness is critical when expanding programs to a large scale.
National Evaluation of Three Approaches to Improving Preschoolers’ Social and Emotional Competence
This demonstration tested the effectiveness of three program enhancements implemented at scale that were designed to improve preschool children’s social-emotional competence. All three had positive impacts on teacher practice and on children’s social-emotional outcomes during the preschool year, although to varying degrees and not necessarily in the expected ways.
Adapting a Preschool Social-Emotional Curriculum
In this study, an existing evidence-based curriculum was adapted for use with a special population by focusing on structural, cultural, and language issues. The findings indicate that adaptations can account for a specific population’s needs while staying true to the core principles and components of the program.
Large-Scale Implementation of Programs to Improve Children’s Social-Emotional Competence
This report describes the extent to which three different classroom-based social-emotional strategies and related professional development supports were implemented as intended in Head Start centers, as well as the degree to which teachers’ practices changed as a result.
Past and ongoing research offers direction for how to strengthen the most basic foundation for early childhood development: family relationships. Part of our “Looking Forward” series, this policy memo makes the case for building on this accumulating evidence to create new and innovative approaches to support children’s earliest years and the unique role of fathers.