NYU Steinhart’s Institute of Human Development and Social Change (IHDSC) is partnering with the New York City Department of Education and the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity to provide educators with the tools they need to monitor and support the quality of universal pre-K programs.
In September, New York City launched an ambitious expansion of pre-K, with 51,500 children registered to attend full-day pre-K programs, more than double the 20,000 children who attended last year. This milestone was the first stage of a two-year effort to bring full-day pre-K to all eligible 4-year-olds.
Prior research in other cities has demonstrated the benefits of large-scale public pre-K programs for children, including gains in language, reading, and math. However, education leaders need the tools to support the effectiveness of their programs. Given the rapid expansion of pre-K in New York City, the data architecture – or means of gathering data, analyzing it, and linking it with existing information – for these programs is still being built.
“This project will help educators to ‘take the pulse’ of pre-K programs in an effort to evaluate the Pre-K for All rollout,” said C. Cybele Raver, professor of applied psychology at NYU Steinhardt and the project’s principal investigator. “We represent a consortium of national leaders at NYU currently working to support early childhood education.”
“What the de Blasio administration and the team of dedicated staff at the Department of Education are doing is critically important – there is substantial evidence that center-based preschool experiences can benefit young children,” added Pamela Morris, director of IHDSC, professor of applied psychology at NYU Steinhardt, and the project’s co-principal investigator. “We are fortunate to be part of the vanguard of city leaders and policy professionals supporting learning in young children.”
To strengthen the data architecture, NYU will work with the city and its evaluation partners to collect assessments throughout the 2014-2015 school year on children’s school readiness (including early language, math, and self-regulation skills), and will work to link this information with the Department of Education’s existing student data systems. Raver, Morris, and their colleagues will analyze the data gathered to create a “dashboard” for city agencies that will be available in the spring of 2015.
NYU will also develop a series of small-scale experiments to answer high-priority questions about pre-K and respond to the city’s needs. NYU’s work will complement other ongoing research initiatives to evaluate Pre-K for All.
“The design and translation of social science knowledge and methods from research to practice is often too slow to fully benefit to educational leaders in large urban educational settings,” Raver said. “Our project aims to answer important questions of high policy relevance, but we want to do so in a way that meets standards of rigor, efficiency, low cost, and timeliness.”
In addition to Raver and Morris, James Kemple, executive director of the Research Alliance for New York City Schools and research professor at NYU Steinhardt, will lead the project as a co-investigator. Kemple will leverage the Research Alliance’s existing datasets and expertise in studying the city’s schools to build and grow the framework for measuring the success of Pre-K for All.
The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences and the Spencer Foundation, as well as funds from NYU.
(Photo: NYU has formed a partnership with New York City to provide educators with the tools they need to monitor and support the quality of Pre-K for All. © iStock.)