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Program Details

Grant Program: Early Learning Programs and Policies
Contact: Dr. Caroline Ebanks
(202) 245-8320

PDF File FY 2024 84.305A (PDF: 846 KB)
MS Word FY 2024 84.305A (DOC: 346 KB) CLOSED

The Early Learning Programs and Policies (Early Learning) topic supports research on the improvement of school-readiness skills (e.g., pre-reading, language, vocabulary, early science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and social and behavioral competencies) of prekindergarten children (i.e., 3- to 5-year-olds).

Through this topic, IES supports research to reduce the academic disadvantage that many children face when they begin formal schooling. This work should be center-based and may address curricula, teacher professional development, or instructional practices; early childhood policy and systems-level initiatives implemented at the federal, state, or local level; and/or assessments of children, teachers, classrooms, and program quality.

The long-term outcome of this research will include an array of tools and strategies (e.g., assessments, instructional approaches, programs, and policies) that are documented as effective for improving school readiness skills for prekindergarten children in center-based prekindergarten settings.


Early Learning Programs and Policies began as a research topic area in fiscal year 2008. Prior to 2008, IES supported early childhood research through the Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research (PCER) program, the National Center for Research on Early Childhood Education (National R&D Center), Cognition and Student Learning (CASL), Effective Instruction, Literacy, and STEM research topics, and the Unsolicited program. Since 2008, IES has primarily funded early childhood research through the Early Learning topic area.

NCER Investment in Early Childhood Research (2002–2022)

Since 2002, IES has advanced the field of early childhood education by supporting research to address a wide range of child outcomes for prekindergarten children, and professional development for early childhood educators. IES has supported research to understand how and what young children learn, identify best practices and policies to support children's learning and development, and develop tools to observe and assess what children learn and know. IES has invested in the development and evaluation of interventions that target children's school readiness skills; the development of assessment tools of children's domain-specific skills; the development and evaluation of professional development programs to improve the quality of early childhood educators' instructional practices and interactions in preschool classrooms; the establishment of partnerships between early childhood researchers and practitioners; studies to understand associations between processes, practices, policy initiatives and child outcomes; and evaluations of early childhood policy and practice initiatives.

The total IES/NCER monetary investment in early childhood research is more than 380 million dollars. The NCER early childhood research portfolio includes grants awarded under several Education Research grant program research topics, the Early Learning Network initiative, Continuous Improvement in Education (CIRE-305H) topic area, the Preschool Curriculum Evaluation Research (PCER) program, Evaluation of State and Local Education Programs and Policies (305E and 305H), Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships (305H), and the National Research Center on Early Childhood Education.

IES Investment in Early Childhood Education

Visit the IES Early Childhood Education page for information about IES's early childhood research, evaluation, and survey data collection projects and products.