Skip Navigation
Funding Opportunities | Search Funded Research Grants and Contracts

IES Grant

Title: National Center for Research on Early Childhood Education
Center: NCER Year: 2006
Principal Investigator: Pianta, Robert C. Awardee: University of Virginia
Program: National Research and Development Centers      [Program Details]
Award Period: 5 years Award Amount: $11,016,009
Goal: Multiple Goals Award Number: R305A060021

Topic: Early Childhood Development and Education

Center Website:


In 2006, the Institute awarded a grant to the University of Virginia to fund the National Center for Research on Early Childhood Education (NCRECE). The grant ended in 2013. At the end of the project, the Institute asked Dr. Robert Pianta, the director of NCRECE to reflect on the work of center by outlining contributions to the field of early childhood education and describing lessons learned from the research, leadership, and dissemination activities.

In this video, Dr. Pianta briefly summarizes the contributions of NCRECE:

Purpose:The National Center for Research on Early Childhood Education (NCRECE) focuses on conducting research, disseminating research findings, and carrying out leadership activities aimed at improving the quality of early childhood education across the United States. The Center is based at the University of Virginia and is directed by Robert Pianta. Major activities include:

  • Research — A randomized, controlled evaluation of the effects of two forms of professional development support for teachers. These supports to teachers will improve the implementation of curricula and interactions with children, as well as, promote gains in children's social and academic development. These approaches will focus in particular on promoting language and literacy skills, domains of child development that operate as gatekeepers to later achievement.
  • Dissemination — Producing and distributing peer-reviewed research, and an assortment of consumer-friendly reports and publications
  • Leadership — Providing leadership in the field of early childhood education.

Professional Development Study
Principal Investigator: Robert Pianta, University of Virginia
To improve early language and literacy skills, the Center is using an experimental, random assignment design to examine the impact of a professional support program for teachers that focuses on literacy and language instruction. The program aims to improve the implementation of curricula and interactions with children, as well as to promote gains in children's social and academic development. Specifically, the Center is conducting a series of experimental studies investigating the impact of a training program when it is delivered as a professional development in-service training program for current early childhood teachers. The intervention will be delivered as a course followed by in-service consultation using the MyTeachingPartner consultation model. The researchers are examining the impact of the training program, which involves both coursework and consultancy support, on children's language and literacy development, as well as on teachers' knowledge, instructional interactions, and classroom practices. Effects will be tested for four combinations of treatment and control conditions: (1) no course/no in-service; (2) no course/in-service; (3) course/no-inservice; and (4) course/in-service.

Key Personnel: Robert Pianta, Donna Bryant, Margaret Burchinal, Jason Downer, Bridget Hamre, Carollee Howes, Karen La Paro, Andrew Mashburn, Catherine Scott-Little.

IES Program Contact: Dr. Caroline Ebanks
Telephone: (202) 219-1410

Publications from this project:

Journal Articles

Barbarain, O., Downer, J., Odom, E. and Head-Reeves, D. (2010). Home-School Differences in Beliefs, Support, and Control During Public Pre-Kindergarten and Their Link to Children's Kindergarten Readiness. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 25 (3): 358–372.

Bayat, M. (2011). Use of Dialogue Journals and Video-Recording in Early Childhood Teacher Education. Journal of Early Childhood Education, 31, 159–172.

Burchinal, M. (2008). How Measurement Error Affects the Interpretation and Understanding of Effect Sizes. Child Development Perspectives, 2 (3): 178–180.

Burchinal, M., Hyson, M., and Zaslow, M. (2008). Competencies and Credentials for Early Childhood Educators: What Do We Know and What Do We Need to Know? NHSA Dialog Brief, 11 (1). Alexandria, VA: National Head Start Association.

Burchinal, M., Vandergrift, N., Pianta, R., and Mashburn, A. (2010). Threshold Analysis of Association between Child Care Quality and Child Outcomes for Low-Income Children in Pre-Kindergarten Programs. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 25 (2):166–176.

Cash, A. H., Hamre, B. K., Pianta, R. C., and Myers, S. S. (in press). Rater calibration when observational assessment occurs at large scale: Degree of calibration and characteristics of raters associated with calibration. Early Childhood Research Quarterly.

Chien, N.C., Howes, C., Burchinal, M., Pianta, R., Ritchie, S., Bryant, D., Clifford, R., Early, D. and Barbarin, O. (2010). Children's Classroom Engagement and Gains in Academic and Social-Emotional Outcomes Across Pre-Kindergarten. Child Development, 81 (5): 1534–1549.

Dotterer, A. M., Burchinal, M., Bryant, D., Early, D., and Pianta, R. (2013). Universal and targeted pre-kindergarten programmes: a comparison of classroom charactertistics and child outcomes. Early Child Development and Care. Advaned online publication.

Downer, J., López, M., Grimm, K., Hamagami, A., Pianta, R., and Howes, C. (2012). Observations of Teacher-Child Interactions in Classrooms Serving Latinos and Dual Language Learners:Applicability of the Classroom Assessment Scoring System in Diverse Settings.Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 27(1), 21–32.

Downer, J.T., Walters, T. and Hamre, B.K. (2010). Teacher-Child Interactions in the Classroom: Toward a Theory of Within- and Cross-Domain Links to Children's Developmental Outcomes. Early Education and Development, 21 (5):699–723.

Early, D.M., Iruka, I.U., Ritchies, S., Barbarin, O., Winn, D., Crawford, G.M., Frome, P.M., Clifford, R.M., Burchinal, M., Howes, C., Bryant, D.M., and Pianta, R.C. (2009). How Do Pre-Kindergarteners Spend Their Time? Gender, Ethnicity, and Income as Predictors of Experiences in Pre-Kindergarten Classrooms. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 25: 177–193.

Fitzpatrick, M., Hastedt, S., and Grissmer, D. (2011). What a Difference a Day Makes: Estimating Daily Learning Gains during Kindergarten and First Grade Using a Natural Experiment. Economics of Education Review, 30(2): 269–279.

Graves, S. L., and Howes, C. (2011). Ethnic differences in social-emotional development in preschool: the impact of teacher-child relationships and classroom quality. School Psychology Quarterly, 26(3), 202–214.

Grimm, K.J. and Widaman, K.F. (2010). Residual Structures in Latent Growth Curve Modeling. Structural Equation Modeling, 17: 414–422.

Grimm, K.J., Kuhl, A. P., and Zhang, Z. (in press). Measurement models, estimation, and the study of change. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal.

Grimm, K.J., Ram, N, and Estabrook, R. (2010). Nonlinear Structured Growth Models in M“plus” and OpenMx. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 45(6): 887–909.

Grimm, K.J., Steele, J.S., Mashburn, A.J., Burchinal, M. and Pianta, R.C. (2010). Early Behavioral Associations of Achievement Trajectories. Developmental Psychology, 46 (5): 1008–1017.

Grissmer, D. W., Grimm, K.J., Aiyer, S. M., Murrah, W.M., and Steele, J.S. (2010). Fine Motor Skills and Attention: Primary Developmental Predictors of Later Achievement. Developmental Psychology, 46 (5): 1008–1017.

Hamre, B. K., and Pianta, R. C. (2009). Classroom processes and positive youth development: conceptualizing, measuring, and improving the capacity of interactions between teachers and students. New Directions for Youth Development, 121: 33–46.

Hamre, B. K., Justice, L., Pianta, R. C., Kilday, C. Sweeny, B., Downer, J, et al., (2010). Implementation Fidelity of the My Teaching Partner Literacy and Language Activities: Associations with Preschoolers' Language and Literacy Growth. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 25: 329–347.

Hamre, B. K., Pianta, R. C., Burchinal, M., Field, S., Locasale-Crouch, J. L., Downer, J.T. … Scott-Little, C. (2012). A Course on Effective Teacher-Child Interactions: Effects on Teacher Beliefs, Knowledge, and Observed Practice.American Educational Research Journal, 29(1): 88–123.

Hatfield, B. E., and LoCasale-Crouch, J. (2011). Making a college course matter at scale: The importance of implementation support. NHSA Dialog: A Research-to-Practice Journal for the Early Childhood Field, 14, 345–350. doi: 10.1080/15240754.2011.623798

LoCasale-Crouch, J., Kraft-Sayre, M., Pianta, R., Hamre, K., Downer, J., Leach, A.,…Scott-Little, C. (2011). Implementing an Early Childhood Professional Development Course Across 10 Sites and 15 Sections: Lessons Learned. National Head Start Association Dialog, 14 (4): 275–292.

Mashburn, A.J.,Pianta, R. C.,Hamre, B. K.,Downer, J.T.,Barbarin, O. A.,Bryant, D.,…Howes, C. (2008). Measures of classroom quality in prekindergarten and children's development of academic language, and social skills. Child Development, 79 (3): 732–749.

Mashburn, A.J., Justice, L.M., Downer, J.T., Pianta, R.C. (2009). Peer Effects on Children's Language Development during Pre-Kindergarten. Child Development, 80 (3): 686–702.

Pianta, R. C., Barnett, W. S., Burchinal, M., and Thornburg, K. R. (2009). The Effects of Preschool Education: What We Know, How Public Is or Is Not Aligned With the Evidence Base, and What We Need to Know. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 10(2): 49–88.

Pianta, R.C., Mashburn, A.J., Downer, J.T., Hamre, B.K., and Justice, L. (2008). Effects of Web-Mediated Professional Development Resources on Teacher-Child Interactions in Pre-Kindergarten Classrooms. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 23 (4): 431–451.

Sanders, K. and Downer, J.T. (2012). Predicting acceptance of diversity in pre-kindergarten classrooms. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 27 (3): 503–511.

Serpell, Z., and Mashburn, A. (2011). Family-School Connectedness and Children's Early Social Development. Social Development. doi: 10.1111/j.1467–9507.2011.00623.x.

Sullivan, A. L. and Field, S. (2013) Do preschool special education services make a difference in kindergarten reading and mathematics skills?: A propensity score weighting analysis. Journal of School Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1016/j.jsp.2012.12.004

Vu, J.A., Jeon, H-J, and Howes, C. (2008). Formal Education, Credential, or Both: Early Childhood Program Practices. Early Education and Development, 19: 479–504.

Book Chapters

Burchinal, M. and Forestieri, N. (2011). Development of Early Literacy: Evidence from Major US Longitudinal Studies. In D. Dickinson and S. Neuman (Eds.). Handbook of Early Literacy Research, Volume 3(pp. 85–96). New York: Guilford Press.

Grissmer, D.W. and Eiseman, E. (2008). Can Gaps in the Quality of Early Environment and Non-Cognitive Skills Help Explain Persisting Black-White Achievement Gaps? In Waldfogel, J. and Magnuson, K. (Eds.), Steady Gains and Stalled Progress: Inequality and the Black-White Test Score Gap. (pp 139–180). New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.

Henry, A. E., and Pianta, R. C.(2010).Effective teacher-child interactions and children's literacy: Evidence for scalable, aligned approaches to professional development. In D. Dickinson and S. Neuman (Eds.), Handbook of Early Literacy Research (pp. 308–320). New York: Guilford Press.

Mashburn, A. and Pianta, R. (2010). Opportunity in Early Education: Improving Teacher-Child Interactions and Child Outcomes. In A. Reynolds, A. Rolnick, M. Englund, and J. Temple (Eds.), Childhood Programs and Practices in the First Decade of Life: A Human Capital Integration (pp. 243–265). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Pianta, R. C., Hamre, B., and Downer, J.T. (2011). Aligning measures of quality with professional development goals and goals for children's development. In M. Zaslow, I. Martinez-Beck, K. Tout, and T. Halle (Eds.),Quality measurement in early childhood settings (pp. 297–315). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.

Pianta, R.C. and Hadden, D.S. (2008). What We Know about the Quality of Early Education Settings: Implications for Research on Teacher Preparation and Professional Development. National Association of State Boards of Education: Alexandria, VA: State Education Standard.

Vitiello, V., Downer, J.T. and Williford, A. (2011) Addressing the Learning Needs of Dual Language Learners: The Role of Teacher-Child Interactions Within a Multi-State Study of Preschool Programs. In C. Howes and R.C. Pianta (Eds.) Investigating the classroom experiences of young dual language learners. Baltimore, MD: Brookes.


Howes, C. (2010).Culture and Child Development in Early Childhood Programs: Practices for Quality Education and Care.New York: Teachers College Press.

Howes, C., and Pianta, R. (Eds.). (2010). Foundations for Teaching Excellence: Connection Early Childhood Quality Rating, Professional Development, and Competency Systems in States. Volume 2 in the NCRECE series. Baltimore: Brookes Publishing Co.

Pianta, R.C., and Howes, C., Eds. (2009). The Promise of Pre-kindergarten.Volume 1 in the NCRECE Series. Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing Co.

Pianta, R.C., and Howes, C., Eds. (available 2011). Investigating the Classroom Experiences of Young Dual Language Learners. Volume 3 in the NCRECE Series. Baltimore: Brookes Publishing Co.

White Papers

Howes, C., Pianta, R., Bryant, D., Hamre, B., Downer, J., and Soliday-Hong, S. (2008). NCRECE White Paper—Ensuring Effective Teaching in Early Childhood Education through Linked Professional Development Systems, Quality Rating Systems and State Competencies: The Role of Research in an Evidence-Driven System.

NCRECE Research Briefs

Making a College Course Matter for Pre-K Professionals: Supports Needed for Success, based on articles by LoCasale-Crouch, J., Kraft-Sayre, M., Pianta, R., Hamre, K., Downer, J., Leach, A., and Scott-Little, C. (2011) and Hatfield and LoCasale-Crouch (2011). Available on the NCRECE website:

Does Special Education Improve Children's Academic Skills?, based on an article by Sullivan and Field (2013). Available on the NCRECE website:

Predicting Acceptance of Diversity in Pre-K Classrooms, based on an article by Sanders and Downer. Available on the NCRECE website:

Comparing Universal and Targeted Pre-Kindergarten Programs, based on an article by Dotterer et al (2013). Available on the NCRECE website:

Large-Scale Rater Calibration for an Observational Instrument, based on an article by Cash et al (2012). Available on the NCRECE website:

A Course on Effective Teacher-Child Interactions, based on an article by Hamre et al (2012). Available on the NCRECE website:

Measuring Teacher-Child Interactions in Linguistically Diverse Pre-K Classrooms, based on an article by Downer et al (2012). Available on the NCRECE website:

The Feasibility of a Common Course in Early Childhood Teacher Preparation Programs, based on an article by Scott-Little, C., LaParo., K. M., Thomason, A.C., Pianta, R.C., Hamre, B. K., Downer, J.T., Burchinal, M., and Howes, C. (2011). Available on the NCRECE website:

Promoting Children's School Readiness: Rethinking the Levers for Change, based on a chapter by Andrew Mashburn and Robert Pianta. Available on the NCRECE website:

Learning How Much Quality is Necessary to Get to Good Results for Children, based on an article by Peg Burchinal, Nathan Vandergrift., Robert Pianta, and Andrew Mashburn. Available on the NCRECE website:

Maximizing Classroom Time to Promote Learning, based on an article by Diane Early, et al. Available on the NCRECE website:

Home-School Differences: What it Means for Kindergarten Readiness, based on an article by Oscar Barbarin, et al. Available on the NCRECE website:–i4–home-school-differences.pdf

Readiness for School Involves an Array of Skills: Let's Not Forget Fine Motor Development, based on articles by Kevin Grimm, David Grissmer, et al. Available on the NCRECE website:

Expanding School Readiness Gains in Prekindergarten, based on an article by Nina Chien, Carollee Howes, Robert Pianta, et al. Available on the NCRECE website: