Synthesis of IES Research on Early Intervention and Early Childhood Education


The purpose of this synthesis is to describe what we have learned from research grants on early intervention and childhood education funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) National Center for Education Research and National Center for Special Education Research and published in peer-reviewed outlets through June 2010. This synthesis is not intended to be the typical research review, which provides a broad overview of research in a field. Rather, it looks across the projects that IES funded to determine what has been learned and to suggest to the field avenues for further research to support improvements in early childhood education in our country.

It is important to contextualize this report. Soon after it was founded, IES launched a broad range of research programs to better understand the links between early childhood education, early intervention, and children’s learning and development; develop more powerful interventions for improving child outcomes; rigorously test the impact of programs, practices, and policies on child outcomes; and develop and validate assessment measures for use with young children. Among these research programs are those that focus on improving developmental outcomes and school readiness for young children with or at risk for disabilities. In the synthesis report accompanying this Summary, we give special attention to summarizing what has been learned about early childhood classrooms as contexts for development and learning, the kinds of instructional practices and curricula that appear to be efficacious for enhancing children’s development and learning, and approaches for improving teachers’ and other practitioners’ (e.g., speech, occupational, or physical therapists) instruction, given hypothesized linkages between instructional quality, instructional effectiveness and children’s learning.

To support the development of this report, IES identified its research grants relevant to the topic and gathered the peer-reviewed journal articles and chapters produced under these grants. IES staff consulted with its grantees to confirm that all peer-reviewed articles emerging from these projects and published or in-press by June 2010 were identified. The articles and chapters were then provided to a panel that included four nationally-recognized experts in early childhood education. Through several conference calls, panel members decided on the focus and organizing themes for the synthesis. The written report reflects their expert judgment as to the contributions of the reviewed articles and chapters toward advancing knowledge and practice in early childhood education.

Source: Institute of Educational Sciences

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