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Strengthening the Architecture for High Quality Universal Pre-K


Since 2014, senior leaders in education research and practice at both New York University and the NYC Department of Education Division of Early Childhood Education (DOE-DECE) have fostered a research-practice partnership to support roll out of universal pre-kindergarten through Pre-K For All improving the quality of its programming. The purpose of this partnership is to provide quantitative and capacity-building solutions to educational problems faced by the DOE-DECE.

    (PI Morris, Co-PI Cappella & Wallack)

    The partnership work is sustained by support from the Institute of Education Sciences. With the current proposal, we will evaluate the impact of three differentiated professional development (PD) approaches, or “tracks,” that are implemented within the Pre-K For All system. Our goal is to produce new knowledge that informs future implementation of PD in NYC and advances research on pre-K systems at scale, in the “real world.” NYC serves a large, diverse student population, with Pre-K for All being available for all 4 year olds in NYC. This context provides a unique opportunity to examine a pre-K program at scale for a diverse population. We will address the following related aims:

    1. Evaluate the impacts of each PD track, relative to all other PD tracks implemented under Pre-K for All, on children’s academic skills, executive functioning, self-regulation, and behavior in pre-K and kindergarten
    2. Examine whether impacts of PD differ across subgroups of the children in Pre-K For All programs (e.g., groups with varying baseline risk)

    (PI Morris and Co-I Cappella)

    Since 2015, the Spencer Foundation provides funding for the partnership work to (1) bolster the City's efforts to ensure that Pre-K For All services are high quality through the development of a quality monitoring framework; and (2) support the City's efforts to assess pre-K (and eventually, Kindergarten) children's developmental progress.

    (PI Raver, Co-Is Morris, Cappella, Allen)

    Funding from the Foundation for Child Development tackles the challenge of supporting classroom quality through professional development across classrooms and a large, rapidly expanding workforce. Through examining ways that senior leaders, administrators, and teachers understand and use data about classroom quality to inform PD, we aim to:

    1. Focus on the use of data among senior leaders in NYC DOE, their systems of monitoring and support for classroom quality, and their offers of PD for all teachers in all Pre-K For All classrooms
    2. Use social network methodology to learn how teachers and administrators understand and use data and PD on classroom quality
    3. Use qualitative methods to gain insights into teachers’ attitudes and experiences regarding data use and the improvement of teaching practice in early childhood education.


    The NYU UPK team of faculty and research staff

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    A photo of an assessor in a pre-kindergarten classroom

    Being able to work with children in such a fun and meaningful way, knowing it's contributing to the improvement of education and well-being for all children in NYC, is the best work there is.

    Katie, Pre-Kindergarten Assessor