BOSTON, June 29, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative at the Harvard Graduate School of Education has launched the Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H), a first-of-its-kind, large-scale, population-based study examining children's development in the context of their learning experiences. The goal of the study is to learn about and describe how the different types of places where young children spend their time impacts how they learn and grow, thereby providing 21st century data to bear on scaling effective practices and policies.
"The current public debate around preschool education is focused on long-held misconceptions," said Nonie Lesaux, the Juliana W. and William Foss Thompson Professor of Education and Society at Harvard Graduate School of Education. "These types of debates can distract from the real need to build a fresh set of goals and expectations around improving the quality of early learning environments and fostering core knowledge for educators. It's our hope that the Initiative and the study will ultimately inform new policies and systems for preschool education."
Harvard is partnering with a Massachusetts-based research firm, Abt Associates, to conduct the study. The research team has randomly selected more than 100 local communities throughout Massachusetts for the study. Ultimately, it will include 5,000 children (ages three and four), and it will follow the families for four years. Twice a year, children will complete select activities with the study team to gauge their development. The places where children spend time and the adults who care for them will also play an important role in the study.
"What is happening to a lesser degree when it comes to early education is a focus on improving and scaling quality," said Stephanie Jones, the Marie and Max Kargman Associate Professor in Human Development and Urban Education. "We need to work on solving the problem of improving quality as we increase access. It's a simple supply and demand issue. The reality is that most parents today need some type of preschool for their children and high quality options are not available at scale."
ELS@H aims to answer the following key questions:
- What learning outcomes and developmental gains can we expect from early learning environments?
- Which of these outcomes are particularly sensitive to high-quality environments and how do they vary by characteristics of the population?
- What are the features of early schooling that maintain and multiply the benefits of preschool?
- What practices undermine those benefits?
For more information about the Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative and ELS@H, visit https://zaentz.gse.harvard.edu/home.
About The Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative
The Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) is a major investment to drive transformation in U.S. early childhood education. The Initiative promotes the knowledge, professional learning and collective action necessary to cultivate optimal early learning environments and experiences. The Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative is supported by a $35.5 million gift from the Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation, one of the largest gifts ever given to a university for advancing early childhood education.
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SOURCE Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative