Research-Practice Partnership with Acelero Learning, Inc.


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 our research-practice partnership, MDRC and Acelero Learning, Inc., will document learning gains for Head Start students, examine how the pandemic affected these students’ learning and development, identify programmatic and implementation conditions that predict gains in child outcomes, and understand how family engagement practices explain children’s development across time.

Findings from this project will inform Head Start and early learning providers across the country of the key programmatic factors that support the learning and development of children experiencing poverty.

Agenda, Scope, and Goals

Acelero Learning, Inc., serves thousands of Head Start children and families each year. Partner programs implement content-rich curriculum supported by teacher training and on-going coaching. Embedded assessments of children and classrooms allow programs to make data-informed decisions in real time. By engaging in new research over two years through the research practice-partnership (RPP) with MDRC, Acelero Learning, Inc., will build systematic evidence on how this robust early learning model supports children’s development in Head Start programs across the country. The RPP aims to produce data and information in real time for programs and teachers to use to make decisions in classrooms. In addition, partner programs will be part of a broader research network sharing learning across settings that stands to improve programmatic implementation and practice at scale.

Design, Sites, and Data Sources

The team will use a variety of data sources to answer research questions, including information on students’ skills collected by Acelero programs, data on observed and teacher-reported instructional practices, and information on how well the Acelero model is implemented across classroom settings.