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Global Seminar students blog from Kenya

Over winter break, Daheia Barr-Anderson, Ph.D., assistant professor in the School of Kinesiology, is teaching a Global Seminar course in Nairobi, Kenya, as part of the U of M’s Learning Abroad programs. The course, titled “Empowering Girls Through Sport,” explores how in the Kenyan culture physical activity is used as a gateway to many aspects of life and how it can empower youth, especially girls.

Students, who are traveling in Kenya from December 26, 2016, to January 16, 2017, are blogging about their experiences:


CEHD faculty address issues of politics, policy, and discourse in U.S. democracy

PrintFaculty in the College of Education and Human Development are engaged in diverse areas of research, teaching, and service in the community. As they look ahead, many of them are expressing insights and creating communities of discussion to improve all lives in this country and around the world.

Here is a sampling of some of their viewpoints that have been published:

Project LEEP trains school psychology students for faculty careers

The U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs recently awarded associate professors Robin Codding and  Amanda Sullivan with a $1,192,606 leadership development grant (over five years from 2016-2021). The project, Leaders Enhancing Evidence-based Practices (Project LEEP), funds fellowships designed to prepare future faculty in school psychology with expertise in applying and sustaining evidence-based practices to schools. Five students in the Department of Educational Psychology’s school psychology program were awarded LEEP fellowships: Jordan Thayer, Alaa Houri, Aria Fiat, Kourtney McNallan, and Madeline Larson.

Project LEEP fellows are trained in: data-based decision making; development and evaluation of evidence-based practices; prevention and intervention using evidence-based practices, and consultation and translation of interventions; as well as leadership competencies in instruction and mentoring in higher education, and research and dissemination. Students receiving the award must complete a variety of experiences—coursework in research methods and statistics, research related to multi tier systems of support (MTSS), and apprenticeships with faculty with related research interests.  

In addition, fellows attend monthly pro-seminars that provide professional development opportunities for pursuing a career as a faculty member. Past pro-seminar topics have included: finding your “fit” in a faculty position based on professional values and goals; types of faculty positions available in the field of school psychology; and what is tenure and how to successfully achieve it. Future Project LEEP pro-seminars will help fellows identify their professional goals and structure training plans to meet the benchmarks needed to obtain a faculty position upon graduation.

Learn more about the school psychology program.

J.B. Mayo wins Josie Johnson Human Rights and Social Justice Award

mayojr-2011J.B. Mayo, associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, received the Josie R. Johnson Human Rights and Social Justice Award at the University of Minnesota Equity and Diversity Breakfast on Nov. 17.

The Josie R. Johnson Award was established in honor of Dr. Josie R. Johnson in recognition of her lifelong contributions to human rights and social justice, which guided her work with the civil rights movement, years of community service, and tenure at the University. The award honors University faculty, staff, and students who, through their principles and practices, exemplify Dr. Johnson’s standard of excellence in creating respectful and inclusive living, learning, and working environments.

Mayo was recognized for his dedication to equity and social justice in schools. Colleagues noted, in particular, his scholarship and outreach related to LGBTQ youth and teachers and his support for LGBTQ communities of color in school and community settings. Read more about Dr. Mayo.

Learn more about past award recipients.

University autism expertise leads to earlier diagnosis

Jed Elison and Jason Wolff

CEHD researchers Jason Wolff and Jed Elison are detecting objective differences in the brains of children who have autism spectrum disorders as early as six months old. And their work is contributing to a national effort to understand this complex array of developmental disorders.

“We know from intervention studies that the earlier you intervene, the better the outcome,” says Wolff in a U of M Medical Bulletin feature story.

Read more about the work of several U of M researchers who bring a spectrum of expertise to their autism research, including prevalence studies led by Amy Hewitt, director of CEHD’s Research and Training Center on Community Living in the Institute on Community Integration.

CEHD researcher improves deaf education through visual learning

Debbie Golos

When I taught reading and writing to sixth grade students at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont, CA, I began to notice a pattern that supported research I had previously read. My students who had parents who were deaf or hearing parents who signed fluently in American Sign Language (ASL) typically read on or above grade level, while those whose families had not signed with them from birth typically lagged behind. This observation made me want to investigate how we might better improve literacy development in young deaf children. Both my research and classroom experience supports an increasing body of research that indicates we can improve outcomes in deaf education through a visual-learning based approach. Read the full article.

Native Language Literacy Assessment promises better outcomes for immigrant students

handswritingStudents who are new to the United States (and often English) have a wide range of educational experience when they enter the U.S. school system, ranging from ten-plus years of high-quality, formal schooling to very few experiences with formal education. However, according to research conducted last year in the Minneapolis public school system by professors Kendall King and Martha Bigelow of the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, the standard assessment given to students new to the country failed to differentiate between those who had formal schooling and those who did not; they both scored roughly the same. This creates a problem for students, who are often initially placed in classes not appropriate to their skill level, and can slow down their achievement in schools.

The research findings, which were recently accepted for publication in Educational Policy, spurred King and Bigelow to tackle the problem with a more effective assessment tool. They started a collaboration with students, faculty and staff at Wellstone International High School, the New Family Center, and the Multilingual Department of Minneapolis public schools to develop the Native Literacy Learning Assessment (NLLA). This test, which Minneapolis now administers to most newcomer adolescents, provides administrators and teachers with crucial information about students’ reading and writing skills in their first language. It is available in Spanish, Somali, Oromo, Arabic, and Amharic.

King and Bigelow hope that teachers and administrators will find this new, free tool useful in meeting the needs of their multilingual students and ensuring appropriate class placement to better educational outcomes for students new to the U.S. school system.

Download the Native Language Literacy Assessment.

New research shows health benefits of yoga for African American women

Daheia Barr-Anderson
Daheia Barr-Anderson

Potential health benefits of yoga were revealed in a pilot study of African American women by Daheia Barr-Anderson, assistant professor in CEHD’s School of Kinesiology.

African American women, as a demographic group, have serious health issues, according to Barr-Anderson. “Over 80 percent of us are overweight,” she said. “African American women have high rates of diabetes and 40 percent of African American women are hypertensive.”

Barr-Anderson, a certified yoga instructor, is introducing more African American women to yoga because of its potential to improve health outcomes, and she is studying the results.

This three-month study took several baseline measures of health in 59 African American women and divided them into an intervention group of 30 and control group of 29. The intervention group attended multiple yoga classes each week for three months; the control group did not.

The data is still being analyzed, but Barr-Anderson is “confident that we will see that yoga helped our participants enact some very powerful changes in their physical and mental health.” She noted that some of the most committed participants showed significant changes, including weight loss and improved blood pressure.

Read more about the study in Barr-Anderson’s Improving Lives blog post.

C&I’s Diane Tedick receives $2.7 million grant to improve educational outcomes for English learners

Professor Diane Tedick
Professor Diane Tedick

Diane Tedick, professor in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, received a $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support English learners (ELs) through programs focusing on dual language and immersion teacher education and professional development, as well as parent education. The five-year grant project will be called the “Dual Language and Immersion Pathways to English Learner Success Through Professional Development and Parent Engagement Project (DLI3P).” Tedick received significant contributions from Tara W. Fortune, the immersion project director in the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) in both conceptualizing the project and writing the grant proposal.

The need to improve English learner education is imperative as English learners are the fastest growing and lowest achieving group of learners in U.S. schools, according to recent data. Research has consistently shown that dual language and immersion (DLI) programs are the most effective in preparing ELs to achieve academically in English. ELs in well-implemented DLI programs do as well as or better on standardized tests in English than peers schooled only through English.

The project aims to address the issue by improving instruction for English learners through the development and implementation of three programs:

  • a two-year, elementary education licensure program specifically teachers in DLI contexts. The new program is slated to start its first cohort in January 2017.
  • a two-year, in-service professional development certificate program for licensed DLI teachers aimed at better serving English learners, which will be offered in the coming year.
  • multiple DLI, parent-family education and engagement curriculum modules that can be accessed to supplement existing, district-sponsored parent education programs or to inform the creation of programs in participating districts throughout the country. Scholars in the field have found that educators who work to involve parents and families in their children’s education can improve their effectiveness with English learners. This piece of the program, led by Tara Fortune, will be important to ensure student success.

The project will involve a consortium of partners at the University including CARLA and the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI). The project is also partnering with six area school districts and a private school in the Twin Cities Metro that have existing two-way bilingual immersion programs. Throughout the project, evaluators will gather high-quality data to assess project efforts with the aim of feeding back into the project for review and improvement on the question of how to prepare and support a diverse cadre of bilingual teachers better prepared to serve English learners and DLI programs effectively.

The grant projects are designed to provide teachers with high quality, DLI-specific preparation and professional development to ensure that programs are well-implemented and to expand the skills, strategies and knowledge of DLI parents and families to improve engagement. The end goal is to make progress toward closing the achievement gap between native English speaking students and English learners and promote equity in the education system.

Dr. Tedick teaches in the Second Language Education program area in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction. Learn more about the second language education programs offered for graduate and undergraduate students.

Center for Resilient Families will serve needs of traumatized children and families

itrThe Institute for Translational Research in Children’s Mental Health (ITR)  announced the funding of a new national center to raise awareness of, and increase access to, family interventions that promote resilience in traumatized children.

The Center for Resilient Families, funded with a $3 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is a partnership between Ambit Network at the University of Minnesota (PI, Dr. Abigail Gewirtz), developers of evidence-based family programs at Arizona State University’s REACH Institute, Implementation Sciences International, and the Research Consortium on Gender-based Violence.

Over the next five years, the Center for Resilient Families will adapt and put into practice five parenting interventions that have been found through rigorous testing to be effective at strengthening resilience among traumatized families. These interventions will serve more than 35,000 people and specifically target isolated families in transition, such as:

  • those with a parent deployed to war
  • Native American families on reservations
  • immigrant and refugee families
  • families involved in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems
  • families in which a parent has been killed

ITR is excited to house the groundbreaking work of this center, which furthers its mission of bridging the vast gap between research and practice in children’s mental health. Learn more about ITR’s work at

Gunnar appointed to governor’s Early Learning Council

Dr. Megan Gunnar
Dr. Megan Gunnar

Megan Gunnar, Ph.D., Regents Professor, Distinguished McKnight University Professor, and director of the Institute of Child Development, has been appointed to Gov. Mark Dayton’s Early Learning Council.

The council aims to ensure that all children are school-ready by 2020. Council members “make recommendations to the governor and legislature on how to create a high-quality early childhood system in Minnesota that will help improve educational outcomes for all children.”

Dr. Gunnar’s term runs from Sept. 19, 2016, to April 7, 2019.

Lori Helman named Outstanding Teacher Educator in Reading

[left to right]: Diane Barone, Outgoing ILA President Jerry Johns, Distinguished Professor Emeritus and award donor, Lori Helman, William Teale, Incoming ILA President
[left to right]: Diane Barone, Outgoing ILA President; Jerry Johns, Distinguished Professor Emeritus and award donor; Lori Helman; William Teale, Incoming ILA President
Lori Helman, associate professor in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, was named the Jerry Johns Outstanding Teacher Educator in Reading at the International Literacy Association’s annual conference in July.

The award honors an exceptional college or university professor in the field of reading education and is given annually to a member of ILA who is currently teaching preparation in reading to prospective educators at the undergraduate or graduate level. “An ideal recipient is considered to be a knowledgeable professional, an innovative teacher, a leader in the field of reading, a role model, and a disseminator,” according to the association.

Helman’s work in literacy in reading includes several endeavors. Most recently, she launched PRESS, a website featuring videos and tutorials that supports educators in implementing a framework for schoolwide literacy improvement. Helman also completed a a six-year longitudinal study of immigrant, bilingual students’ language and literacy journeys and co-wrote Inclusive Literacy Teaching on her findings and the implications for education. She is currently working with bilingual and dual immersion schools to implement Spanish word study curriculum and serves as a member of the International Literacy Association’s Standards 2017 Committee revising national standards for reading teachers and literacy professionals.

Helman’s research and teaching at the University centers on topics such as literacy development in the elementary grades, effective instructional practices with multilingual learners, teacher development and leadership, and assessment and instruction to support aspiring readers K-6.

Learn more about the graduate programs and professional development opportunities offered in literacy education in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction.




CEHD start-up joins with national Montessori center to assess and improve kids’ kindergarten readiness

1apicThe National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector (NCMPS) in Washington, D.C., and Reflection Sciences, a Minnesota start-up educational technology company started by two CEHD professors, has announced a new partnership to measure Executive Function in Montessori and developmentally based education.

Executive Function (EF) capabilities are key developments in the preschool years. Sometimes called the “air traffic controller of your brain,” EF is the set of neurocognitive functions that help the brain organize and act on information. These functions enable us to pay attention, control behavior, and think flexibly — essentially, the tools that are necessary to succeed in kindergarten and beyond.

In this new program, NCMPS will work with Reflection Sciences to offer training and tools to measure these essential skills using the Minnesota Executive Function Scale (MEFS). The MEFS is a valid and reliable measure of EF that is based on the latest neuroscience, delivered on touch-screen tablet, and takes less than five minutes.

How important is Executive Function? Recent studies have shown these skills are more predictive of academic success than IQ. And like many skills, EF develops through practice. That is why it is crucial to nurture these skills at an early age.

“The MEFS gives us a simple, reliable, non-intrusive way to prove something we’ve suspected in Montessori for decades — that Montessori prepared environments, trained teachers, and learning materials support optimal child development,” said Jacqueline Cossentino, research director of NCMPS. “Now we can measure and compare Montessori’s effectiveness.”

Stephanie Carlson

Stephanie Carlson, child development professor and co-founder and CEO of Reflection Sciences, agrees with the Montessori approach. “We are so impressed with what Montessori does to promote Executive Function. By cultivating reflection though nearly everything they do in the classroom, the Montessori approach embodies best practices for building EF skills,” she said. “This is such an important part of early childhood education and they are embracing it. This is likely to have lasting positive impacts for their children, and now they will be able to measure these results.”

NCMPS is introducing the new program at eight training locations, beginning in October 2016. They will offer the MEFS to their partner schools, while Reflection Sciences will facilitate the onboarding of new schools to its cloud-based web portal and continue to offer support and additional services, such as professional development about EF and assistance with data analysis.

“With this new partnership, our educators will be more intentional in nurturing Executive Function skills, so that our students are better prepared to learn, socialize, and handle any situation that may develop in elementary school,” added Cossentino.

Founded by Carlson and professor Phil Zelazo in CEHD’s Institute of Child Development in 2014, Reflection Sciences provides professional development, training, and tools for assessing and improving Executive Function skills. Their Minnesota Executive Function Scale is the first objective, scientifically-based, and normed direct assessment of executive function for ages 2 years and up.

CEHD hosts 2nd summit to improve student success with open textbooks

Using open textbooks can save students hundreds of dollars per semester. Making faculty aware that they are an option, though, remains a challenge, which is why the University of Minnesota is hosting a meeting of its Open Textbook Network (OTN), Aug. 9-12.

The OTN, an alliance of nearly 250 colleges and universities across the country, will convene on the Twin Cities campus to develop strategies for advancing open textbook programs on their campuses. Participants will also gain expertise in helping faculty understand the negative impact high textbook costs can have on students’ academic performance. Over the last year, the OTN has grown by nearly 175 members.

Published under a Creative Commons license, open textbooks are available to students for free. Faculty can custom edit the textbooks to meet their needs. By using open textbooks, students can save thousands of dollars over a college career. The OTN has already saved students an estimated total of $3.1 million in textbook costs.

David Ernst

“Open textbooks eliminate the cost barrier between students and their learning,” said David Ernst, director of the Center for Open Education and executive director of the OTN. “The institutions in the Open Textbook Network are all committed to improving student success through the use of these textbooks.”

The Open Textbook Network also hosts the Open Textbook Library, the first searchable online catalog of open textbooks, many of which are reviewed by faculty at OTN institutions. Currently, more than 260 textbook titles are available for use.

IGDILab receives over $4 million in grants to research early language and literacy

The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) has awarded the Individual Growth and Development Indicators (IGDILab) three $1.4 million, four-year grants to expand research in assessment of early language and literacy development of children ages three to five. Three researchers from the Department of Educational PsychologyAlisha Wackerle-Hollman (school psychology), Scott McConnell (special education), and Michael Rodriguez (quantitative methods in education) will lead the IGDILab grants. Colleagues (and College of Education and Human Development alumni) from the Universities of Oregon, Washington, and Nebraska and Lehigh University will help conduct the research.

In a joint statement on the three grants Dr. McConnell and Dr. Wackerle-Hollman wrote, “We are excited to expand our work on IGDIs, and to continue the long line of research and application of General Outcome Measures— a line of work that Stan Deno and colleagues initiated almost 40 years ago. While the methods are slightly different, the overall aim remains the same: Produce psychometrically rigorous measures that are easy to use, so that teachers and others can have a better sense of their students’ current development and possible need for additional supports.”

Progress Monitoring Individual Growth and Development Indicators (PM-IGDIs) will develop a set of tools to assess young children’s language and literacy skills at frequent intervals and depict performance trajectories over time to aid in identifying children in need of intervention. Specifically, PM-IGDIs will examine four-and five-year-olds’ phonological awareness, oral language, alphabet knowledge and comprehension. Read the abstract.

Progress Monitoring – Spanish – Individual Growth and Development Indicators (PM – S – IGDIs) will use procedures and analyses similar to PM-IGDIs to develop a set of tools to frequently measure Spanish early language and literacy performance of  young Spanish-English Dual Language Learners. PM-S-IGDIs will examine four and five-year-olds’ Spanish phonological awareness, oral language and alphabet knowledge. Read the abstract.

“Nearly one in four children in the United States is Latino and more than one in five comes from a home where a language other than English is spoken,” says Dr. Wackerle-Hollman. “But within that group, research tells us up to 85% are not proficient readers by fourth grade. It is clear that we must improve how we support our SE-DLL students, and we’re excited to contribute to that work with new, empirically sound and conceptually strong measurement tools.”

An extension of the existing Individual Growth and Development Indicators (IGDIs) measurement system, IGDIs – PK3 will assess the language and literacy development of three-year-olds. These measures will lead to improvements in school readiness for preschool children by providing an age appropriate assessment from age three to kindergarten entry. Read the abstract.

“As early childhood services continue to expand in Minnesota and throughout the nation, we’ll need better ways to assess and support age-appropriate progress for younger and younger children,” says Dr. McConnell. “This project extends our reach, exploring new ways to extend General Outcome Measurement to even younger children.”


The IGDILab researches, develops, validates, and applies IGDIs to support data-based decision making by teachers, early childhood professionals, parents, and others to help improve early childhood outcomes. To date, the lab’s work includes the assessment of English and Spanish language and early literacy development for children three, four, and five years of age. In the future, research, data, and learned methods from the IGDILab plan to be applied to other languages, domains of development, and new settings, including communities.

SciGirls Code project highlights girls’ computational thinking and coding skills

The SciGirls Code project, led by co-principal investigator Cassie Scharber, kicked off with a session and advisory board meeting at the Computer Science Teachers Association conference in San Diego, July 11-14. The project, funded by the National Science Foundation’s STEM + Computing Partnerships (STEM + C) program, is a two-year project that uses the principles of connected learning with STEM outreach partners to provide 160+ girls and their educators with computational thinking and coding skills.

Cassie Scharber

Scharber, associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, leads development of curricula centering on three tracks—e-textiles and wearable tech, robotics, and mobile geospatial technologies; role model training for female technology professionals; professional development for STEM educators; and a research component that investigates the ways computational learning experiences impact the development of computational thinking as well as interest and attitudes toward computer science.

For more information, visit the SciGirls website, produced by Twin Cities Public Television.

New research shows that preschoolers can detect logical inconsistencies

Do preschoolers understand logic? Do they understand that something cannot be both true and false at the same time?

That’s what new research published in Child Development set out to discover. The findings are surprising.

The study, led by Ph.D. graduate Sabine Doebel and associate professor Melissa Koenig of the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Child Development, found that children as young as 4 years old can detect logical inconsistency if the claims they are evaluating are presented in verbal context that encourages children to think about speakers’ reliability as information sources. In addition, the research indicated that “executive function,” or the ability to override habits or impulses, helped 4- and 5-year-olds detect inconsistencies in adult speakers.

Previous research had suggested that children younger than 6 years of age cannot detect logical inconsistency. This new research, however, provides new insights about when and how foundational logical skill first emerges in children and what role it plays in supporting early social learning.

Sabine Doebel

“This research gives us a more accurate sense of when children can detect logical inconsistencies and what skills seem to support it, which in turn provides new ideas about how this key ability might continue to develop into adulthood,” said Doebel. “The study also provides new evidence of social influences on reasoning. If we want children and adults to reason well, it may be beneficial to provide information in social contexts that support and motivate reasoning, rather than presenting information in abstraction.”

In one of the study’s experiments, 3- to 5-year-olds were presented with two speakers who expressed claims that were logically consistent and inconsistent. For example, one speaker said, “This box is full of toys and it has a ball in it,” while the other speaker said, “This box is full of toys and it is empty.” The 4- and 5-year-olds correctly identified the inconsistent speaker as not making sense.

In a second experiment, children were given the opportunity to detect logical inconsistencies either spoken or read from books by adults. Four-year-olds only detected logical inconsistencies when they were expressed by speakers; 5-year-olds detected them in both contexts.

In both experiments, children remembered when speakers were inconsistent and avoided learning new information from them. The second experiment also found that executive function, when controlled for verbal knowledge and working memory in the children, predicted inconsistency detection over and above the control variables.

“Executive function plays a role in many early emerging skills, and others have suggested it might be important for other logical concepts,” said Doebel. “More research is needed to understand exactly how this might work. Interventions to train executive function have shown a lot of promise, and it would be great if such training could promote logical skills.”

The study, “Young Children Detect Logical Inconsistency: Roles for Social Learning and Executive Function,” was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation.

Research reveals Child-Parent Centers’ benefits in closing achievement gap, reducing inequality

Compared with routinely implemented preschool, Child-Parent Center (CPC) participation was linked to greater school readiness skills and parental involvement, according to a study by a research team at the University of Minnesota’s Human Capital Research Collaborative (HCRC) and Institute of Child Development. The research also demonstrated that CPC expansion to new schools and diverse populations is both feasible and effective.

The CPC program is an early childhood intervention model that provides comprehensive educational and family-support services to children starting at ages 3 to 4 in high-poverty neighborhoods, with continuing services up to third grade. Under an Investing in Innovation Grant from the U.S. Department of Education, HCRC co-director Arthur Reynolds and the University team began an expansion of the CPC program in 2012 in four school districts, including St. Paul; Chicago; Evanston, Illinois; and Normal, Illinois.

This is the first study on the Midwest expansion of CPCs and is featured in the July issue of Pediatrics. The research, led by Reynolds, director of the CPC expansion project and professor at the Institute of Child Development, studied full- and part-day preschool programs from a large cohort of low-income children who were enrolled in Midwest CPCs or alternative preschools in the fall of 2012 in 30 Chicago schools. Co-authors were Momoko Hayakawa, Midwest CPC expansion manager, and HCRC researchers Brandt Richardson, Michelle Englund, and Suh-Ruu Ou.

Arthur Reynolds

“Our findings show that a strongly evidence-based program, which sets CPCs apart from many early education programs, can be effectively scaled in a contemporary context and within a preschool to third grade system of continuity,” Reynolds said.

The study involved end-of-preschool follow-up of a matched-group cohort of 2,630 predominantly low-income, ethnic minority children. The study, which assessed the preschool component, included 1,724 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds enrolled in 16 CPC programs. The comparison group included 906 children of the same age who participated in the usual school-based preschool services in 14 matched schools.

Compared with the children enrolled in the usual state pre-kindergarten and Head Start services, CPC participants had higher mean scores on all performance-based assessments of literacy, socio-emotional development, and physical health. Seventy percent of CPC participants were at or above the national average on six domains of learning, compared with 52 percent for the comparison group. Additionally, the scores were equivalent to more than a half-year gain in proficiency skills and a 33 percent increase over the comparison group in meeting the national norm.

Seventy-five percent of CPC full-day preschool participants met national performance norms compared to sixty-eight percent for CPC part-day participants, but both groups showed significantly greater performance than the comparison group. Compared to the CPC part-day group, full-day participants had significantly lower rates of chronic absence.

CPC participants also had higher ratings of parental involvement as 59 percent of the program group exhibited high involvement in school compared to 20 percent for the comparison group. For example, as described by one CPC parent, “I came to the workshops [at the center], and movie day, or game night. Stuff like that has helped me be more involved with my son, and learn how to create different activities for him to do.” Another parent reported “being able to see what he was doing in the classroom, I could relate to school more. I felt like this was a tool for me at home as a parent to make it a more seamless transition.”

Because of their demonstrated impact on well-being, early childhood programs are at the forefront of prevention for improving educational success and health. Life-course studies indicate that participation in high-quality, center-based programs at ages 3 and 4 links to higher levels of school readiness and achievement, higher rates of educational attainment and socioeconomic status as adults, and lower rates of crime, substance use, and mental health problems.

The study provides support for increasing access to effective preschool as a strategy for closing the achievement gap and addressing health disparities. It demonstrates that preschool appears to be a particularly effective approach for strengthening school readiness, and it supports the positive effects of full-day preschool over part-day as key factor in increasing access to early childhood programs.

Although publicly-funded preschool programs such as Head Start and state prekindergarten serve an estimated 42 percent of U.S. 4-year-olds, most provide only part-day services and only 15 percent of 3-year-olds are enrolled. These rates, plus differences in quality, intensity, and comprehensiveness, may account for the finding that only about half of entering kindergartners have mastered the cognitive skills needed for school success.

Federal initiatives such as Healthy People 2020 and the President Obama’s Preschool for All plan prioritize improving children’s school readiness skills. The results of this study show that gains are possible with effective programs that provide comprehensive services.

The study noted that “because CPC provides more intensive and comprehensive services than most other programs, larger and more sustained effects have been found on educational, economic, and social well-being.” In CPC, class sizes are small, family services are extensive, and curriculum is focused on child engagement in all aspects of learning.

“Closing the achievement gap requires not only highly effective early education, but a strong system of continuity into the elementary grades,” Reynolds said. “A major reason why CPC has sustained effects leading to high economic returns is that it is high in quality but also includes comprehensive services over many years.”

A description of the CPC program and manual is available here.

The Midwest Expansion of the Child-Parent Center Education Program, Preschool to Third Grade, is an intervention project of the Human Capital Research Collaborative (HCRC) at the University of Minnesota and eight school districts and educational partners. HCRC is a unique partnership between the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota to advance multidisciplinary research on child development and social policy.

New project to improve learning on a large scale launches research in Vietnam

Research on Improving Systems of Education (RISE) — a new initiative aimed at conducting high-quality research to build evidence to enhance children’s learning throughout the world — announced today that it will begin work in Vietnam. University of  Minnesota and CEHD researchers are leading this effort.

The £4.2 million, six-year undertaking will seek to understand how Vietnam “got it right” in creating an education system that has led its students to achieve learning levels exceeding those of their peers in far wealthier nations.

The project in Vietnam is one of four research endeavors being launched in countries throughout the world  to shed light on ways to address a global learning crisis. Countries around the world have been remarkably successful in making progress toward universal primary (elementary) schooling, but in many places, learning levels are poor, or have declined. As a result, even when children finish many years of schooling, they still lack basic math and literacy skills. The RISE agenda emphasizes the need to make changes that can provide children with the education they need to be successful adults in their local, national, and global communities.

Research about the experiences of Vietnam offers the potential to inform policies that can help other countries enhance students’ education.

Vietnam’s achievements in elementary and secondary education over the last two decades are extraordinary. Out of 65 countries, Vietnam ranked 17th in math and 19th in reading — surpassing both the United States and the United Kingdom — in the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the worldwide scholastic performance measure of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Vietnam’s primary school completion rate is 97 percent, and its lower secondary enrollment rate is 92 percent.

Paul Glewwe

“Vietnam’s success raises key questions about how it reached such levels of learning, and whether its achievements can provide insights that help other nations,” said Paul Glewwe, one of the research team’s principal investigators (PIs). He has been engaged in research in Vietnam for 25 years and is a Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the Department of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota. “The project is very ambitious in scope, and it takes advantage of an incredible success story in education in developing countries.”

Joan DeJaeghere

Co-PI Joan DeJaeghere, associate professor in CEHD’s Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development, is part of a team of nine experts from institutions within and outside of Vietnam that will undertake a systematic evaluation of Vietnam’s education system by analyzing the status and impacts of past, current, and upcoming educational reforms. The aim is to understand how policy levers made Vietnam’s exceptional achievements possible, and whether and how new reforms are able to build on its achievements.  DeJaeghere is a Fulbright Scholar and Fulbright Specialist to Vietnam, having worked on education projects there for over 10 years.

RISE is managed and implemented through a partnership based in Oxford, UK, between leading international development consultancy Oxford Policy Management and the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford. Research is led by the Center for Global Development, a non-profit think tank based in Washington, D.C.

Read more on the RISE website.