April 29, 2014

High Quality Preschool Expansion: What Does Research Say?

SRCD Co-Sponsored Congressional Briefing

This SRCD- and Foundation for Child Development (FCD)-sponsored congressional briefing provided information for congressional leaders and their staff on expanding high quality preschool. Presentations focused on a research brief recently published by SRCD and FCD on Investing in Our Future: The Evidence Base on Preschool Education and also included perspectives from researchers and early childhood program leadership on high quality preschool as implemented city-wide in two different settings: Tulsa and Boston.

The event was bicameral and bipartisan, with Honorary Co-Chairs from both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and both the Democratic and Republican parties. The Honorary Co-Chairs were Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, Congressman Richard Hannah of New York, and Congressman George Miller of California. Senator Harkin is Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and Congressman Miller is the Senior Democratic Member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee.

The briefing began with welcoming remarks from Scott Groginsky, a staff member with the House Education and the Workforce Committee, and Mario Cardona, a staff member with the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Martha Zaslow, Director of SRCD’s Office for Policy and Communications and a Senior Scholar at Child Trends, identified the purpose of the briefing as providing a summary of the evidence on preschool that includes the most recent studies of implementation at scale, and sharing research and practice in two cities that have implemented high quality preschool at scale.

The briefing included five substantive presentations. The first presentation was given by Hirokazu Yoshikawa of New York University and summarized key points from the research brief Investing in Our Future: The Evidence Base on Preschool Education. Next, Deborah Phillips of Georgetown University and Steven Dow of the Community Action Project of Tulsa provided research and programmatic leadership perspectives on Tulsa’s large-scale public prekindergarten program. Last, Christina Weiland of the University of Michigan and Jason Sachs of Boston Public Schools provided research and program leadership perspectives on Boston’s large-scale public prekindergarten program. The opening remarks and presentations can be found here.

During the briefing, Congressman George Miller joined the discussion, thanking the presenters for sharing their research and implementation experiences with Congress, and encouraging lawmakers to consider these perspectives when thinking about future early childhood education policy.

The briefing was attended by over 80 individuals from congressional offices and committees, in addition to staff from federal agencies and other policy, professional, and scientific organizations.

View the briefing agenda and biosketches of presenters.

Left: Scott Groginsky, a staff member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, and Mario Cardona, a staff member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions welcome participants. Right: Martha Zaslow, Director of the SRCD Office for Policy and Communications and Senior Scholar at Child Trends, provides participants with an overview of the goals for the briefing.

Left: Hirokazu Yoshikawa summarizes key points from the SRCD and FCD research brief. Right: Deborah Phillips shares a research perspective on quality and child outcomes in Tulsa, Oklahoma’s citywide prekindergarten.

Left:  Congressman George Miller, Senior Democratic Member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, provides comments on the importance of high-quality preschool. Right: Steven Dow sheds light on the lessons to be learned from Tulsa’s implementation of high quality preschool at scale.

Left: The briefing hall at the Capitol Visitor Center was full. Right: Christina Weiland presents the research on preschool programs in Boston, Massachusetts.

Left: Jason Sachs describes city-wide implementation in Boston public schools and current efforts to expand to community-based childcare and up to grade 3. Right: All presenters from left, Martha Zaslow, Steven Dow, Deborah Phillips, Christina Weiland, Hirokazu Yoshikawa, and Jason Sachs.

Left: Participants pose questions to the panel.  Right: Inquiries and comments continue after the presentations. All presenters are greeted by eager inquiries and praise.