In recent years, there has been a tremendous push for expanding pre-K programs in states across the country. As policymakers and advocates look to early childhood research findings to inform their decisions, a group of experts gathered at AEI on Wednesday to address the crucial question: Is the early childhood research base sufficient for guiding new and expanding early childhood programs?
In a packed room, Timothy Bartik, Dale C. Farran, William T. Gormley Jr., and Russ Whitehurst joined AEI’s Katharine Stevens to discuss the research base of early childhood programs, what it has offered the field, and what questions it has left unanswered. Panelists addressed the particular methods used in pre-K research, how those methods influence study findings, and what steps the field can take in the future to ensure high quality in early childhood research to help America’s most vulnerable children.
Making good policy decisions about establishing or expanding early childhood programs requires solid evidence about those programs’ effectiveness. However, both the type and quality of the research used to assess program impact vary greatly.
While some argue that current knowledge provides adequate support for growing pre-K programs, others suggest that stronger evidence is needed. Is the current research base sufficient to guide new and expanding early childhood initiatives?
Please join AEI as four prominent scholars discuss the current state of early childhood research. They will explore its strengths and gaps, which questions have been answered and which remain, and how researchers can best advance the well-being of America’s most vulnerable children.
Join the conversation on social media with @AEIeducation and #DoesPreKWork.
Katharine B. Stevens, AEI
Timothy Bartik, Upjohn Institute for Employment Research
Dale C. Farran, Vanderbilt University
William T. Gormley Jr., Georgetown University
Russ Whitehurst, Brookings Institution
Katharine B. Stevens, AEI
Event Contact Information
For more information, please contact Elizabeth English at [email protected], 202.862.5822.
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Timothy Bartik is a senior economist at the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, a nonpartisan research organization. He is nationally known for his research on state and local economic development. His book, “Investing in Kids” (Upjohn Institute Press, 2011) argued that early childhood programs can promote local economic development. His book “From Preschool to Prosperity” (Upjohn Institute Press, 2014) provides a summary of research on the economic benefits of early childhood programs. Dr. Bartik received his B.A. from Yale and his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. From 2000 to 2008, he served on the Kalamazoo School Board. He blogs about topics related to early childhood at investingforkids.
Dale C. Farran is the Antonio and Anita Gotto Chair in Teaching and Learning and a professor in psychology and human development at Peabody College at Vanderbilt University. She is also senior associate director of the Peabody Research Institute. Before Vanderbilt, Dr. Farran spent 10 years with the Abecedarian Project, three years in Hawaii at the Kamehameha School, and nine years at University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She has served as the principal investigator or co-PI of several large longitudinal randomized control trials (RCTs) studying various approaches to prekindergarten education. Recently, she and her colleagues have evaluated possible measures for assessing self regulation in young children, as well as a cluster RCT of the Tools of the Mind prekindergarten curriculum. Currently, she is following the children, now in sixth grade, who were a part of a pre-K math intervention. In addition, she is the co-PI of the only RCT of a statewide prekindergarten program, with recent funding to follow the sample through middle school.
William T. Gormley Jr. is a professor at Georgetown University. He is also a professor of public policy and government and codirector of the Center for Research on Children in the US. He previously served as interim dean of public policy at Georgetown for two years. He is the author or coauthor of several books, including “Voices for Children: Rhetoric and Public Policy,” (Brookings, 2012), “Bureaucracy and Democracy” (Congressional Quarterly Press, 2011), “Organizational Report Cards” (Harvard University Press, 1999), and “Everybody’s Children: Child Care as a Public Problem” (Brookings, 1995). He is currently writing a book on critical thinking and K–12 education. Dr. Gormley is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and a past president of the public policy section of the American Political Science Association. For the past 15 years, he has directed the Oklahoma pre-K project, which has evaluated the state-funded pre-K program in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His findings have appeared in The Journal of Human Resources, Policy Studies Journal, Developmental Psychology, Social Science Quarterly, Child Development, Science, and elsewhere. The success of Oklahoma’s pre-K program has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, and “CBS Evening News.”
Katharine B. Stevens leads the American Enterprise Institute’s (AEI) early-childhood program, focusing on the research, policy, and politics of early-childhood care and education. She also studies the role of early learning in expanding opportunity for low-income Americans and the implementation challenges of rapidly growing early-childhood education initiatives, especially issues of teacher quality. Ms. Stevens has 20 years of both on-the-ground and research experience in urban education reform. Before joining AEI, she founded and led Teachers for Tomorrow, one of the first urban teacher-residency programs in the United States, which recruited and trained teachers for New York City’s lowest-performing schools. She began her career in public education as a preschool teacher in New Haven, Connecticut, and St. Louis, Missouri. Her analyses and commentary have been published in Education Week, The Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, New York Post, US News & World Report, and The Wall Street Journal. Ms. Stevens has a Ph.D. in education policy from Columbia University, a M.Ed. from Teachers College, an MBA from Columbia Business School, and a B.A. in US history from the University of Chicago.
Russ Whitehurst is a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution, where he serves in the Center on Children and Families and is the editor of Evidence Speaks, a weekly series of reports on evidence in education and social policy. As the founding director of the Institute of Education Sciences within the US Department of Education, he is widely acknowledged to have had a transforming effect on the rigor and relevance of education research. In his earlier career as a developmental psychologist, he carried out seminal research on early literacy, language development, and preschool education. Dialogic Reading, a program he developed to enhance language development in children from low-income families, is used in preschools around the world. He is a recipient of numerous professional awards, including the Microsoft Innovators in Higher Education Award for his development of CourseNet, a digital platform for college courses; the Peter H. Rossi Award of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management for his contributions to program evaluation; and the Robert Boruch Award from the Campbell Collaboration for his distinctive contributions to research that informs public policy.