A Single Year of High-Quality Early Education Has Broad Effects

A new study published in the journal Child Development found that the high-quality, center-based early childhood education offered at Educare schools in Milwaukee, Chicago, Omaha and Tulsa has a positive impact on the development of financially disadvantaged infants and toddlers.

Not only did language skills improve for the children involved in the study across five Educare schools, but these children have more positive interactions with their parents and display fewer problem behaviors than children who did not attend Educare, the study found. Educare is a comprehensive, research-based Head Start and Early Head Start program serving financially disadvantaged children, ages 6 weeks to 5 years, and their families.

“The achievement gap for children from low-income families has been an enduring problem, but relatively few programs have been successful in narrowing that gap,” said Noreen M. Yazejian, senior research scientist at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the study’s principal investigator. “These findings suggest that a comprehensive, research-based early childhood education program can make a difference for children even after just one year.”

The randomized control study was conducted by Yazejian and colleagues from UNC and researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, University of Chicago, University of Oklahoma and University of Nebraska Medical Center.

“I think the importance of this study is that it meets standards of rigor in the field, and at the same time the results suggest that high quality early childhood education programs do have an impact on children’s learning and development,” said Nancy File, the Kellner Professor of Curriculum & Instruction at UWM and a contributing researcher to the study.

The study consisted of a sample of 239 children. Researchers compared those children who attended Educare to those who did not. The study began enrolling the children before they were 1 year old and assessed them one year later.

Child development research shows that strong language skills, social-emotional skills and parent-child relationships at an early age are all predictive of a child’s future success in school and in life. Researchers involved in the UNC/Educare study will continue to follow the children until they enter kindergarten.

For more information, contact Nancy File, (414) 229-4197, nfile@uwm.edu.

About Educare

Educare is dedicated to increasing access to quality early childhood education for children across the country. Educare does this through a national network of 21 effective early learning schools, field-building professional development and research initiatives, and federal and state advocacy efforts. Learn more about Educare at educareschools.org.

About the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The mission of the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute is to enhance the lives of children and families through interdisciplinary research, technical assistance, professional development, and implementation science. FPG generates knowledge, informs policies and supports practices to promote positive developmental and educational outcomes for children of all backgrounds and abilities from the earliest years.

About UWM
Recognized as one of the nation’s 115 top research universities, UW-Milwaukee provides a world-class education to 26,000 students from 89 countries on a budget of $667 million. Its 14 schools and colleges include Wisconsin’s only schools of architecture, freshwater sciences and public health, and it is a leading educator of nurses and teachers. UW-Milwaukee partners with leading companies to conduct joint research, offer student internships and serve as an economic engine for southeastern Wisconsin. The Princeton Review named UW-Milwaukee a 2017 “Best Midwestern” university based on overall academic excellence and student reviews, as well as a top “Green College.”