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Early Childhood
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RELs work in partnership with states and districts to 1) conduct original high quality research, 2) provide training, coaching, and technical support, and 3) disseminate high quality research findings in an effort to improve learning for preschool aged child. A selected list of resources developed by the REL Program appears below.


Work in Progress

  • Children's Knowledge and Skills at Kindergarten Entry in Illinois: Results From the First Statewide Administration of the Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (REL Midwest). The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is implementing a new, statewide kindergarten entry assessment titled Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS). Researchers in REL Midwest's Midwest Early Childhood Education Research Alliance (MECERA) will use quantitative data collected from KIDS to answer research questions about the psychometric properties of the data, the levels of skills children in Illinois have at kindergarten entry, and variations in these skills levels across subgroups and schools. In addition, researchers will collect information on barriers or obstacles that teachers and principals face during data collection to inform revisions to state-provided guidance or training.
  • Neighborhood Influences on the Quality of Child Care Centers in North Carolina (REL Southeast). This study seeks to build an understanding of the extent to which high quality of early childhood education is dependent on geographically-linked factors. Specifically, in addition to more commonly included provider-specific factors (for example, funding source), this study will investigate the influence of such factors as greater competition for families in urban communities and the limited provider access to well-educated and trained ECE teachers in rural communities further from postsecondary institutions.
  • Systematic review of the literature on the effectiveness of early childhood education curricula and instructional practices on language and literacy development (REL Southeast). The REL Southeast has been asked by members of the Southeast School Readiness partnership to provide an up-to-date systematic review of the literature on effective early childhood education curricula and instructional practices on language and literacy development. The REL Southeast will conduct a comprehensive systematic review of research covering the last 20 years (1997–2017) using What Works Clearinghouse standards for evaluating effectiveness to identify curricula and instructional practices for improving early childhood language and literacy development.


  • Studying the Validity of New Mexico's Kindergarten Observation Tool (REL Southwest). Children's knowledge, skills, and experience vary widely when they enter school. Many states support kindergarten entry assessments to help teachers better understand each child's individual competencies when they enter school so teachers can tailor instruction accordingly. New Mexico developed the Kindergarten Observation Tool (the KOT) as their kindergarten entry assessment. REL Southwest's New Mexico Prekindergarten Research Alliance wanted scientific evidence to determine if the KOT measured the dimensions of children's knowledge and skill that it was intended to measure. Additionally, they wanted to identify potential opportunities to strengthen the KOT for future use. REL Southwest worked with the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) and the Central Region Educational Cooperative to examine the validity of the 2015 KOT field test. This video provides an overview of the study findings.
  • Building Blocks of Our Future: A Look at Quality Early Education (REL Midwest). This public television program raises awareness of the characteristics of high-quality early education experiences and what research indicates about how programs can incorporate academic content and developmentally appropriate practice.
  • Collaborative Research and the Early Childhood Education Research Alliance. (REL Midwest). Alliance lead Ann-Marie Faria discusses REL Midwest's Early Childhood Education Research Alliance and how the alliance practices collaborative research.
  • Study Findings: Data Collection and Use in Early Childhood Programs, Evidence from the Northeast. (REL Northeast and Islands). A REL Northeast & Islands study explored how early childhood education programs are collecting and using data, how they would like to use data, how they could use the data that they have, and the challenges they face in these efforts. These tasks were accomplished by interviewing administrators and teachers at seven preschools in a mid-sized city in the Northeast Region and by analyzing child data already collected by two of these preschools.

Archived Webinars

  • The Path Forward for the Early Education Workforce: National Policies and Examples from Vermont (REL Northeast and Islands, October 19, 2017). As states across the country expand access to high-quality preschool programs, opportunities exist to address issues related to early childhood workforce development, including teacher qualifications, certification requirements, and compensation. This REL Northeast & Islands webinar introduces participants to The Early Childhood Workforce Index, which provides the first comprehensive look at early childhood workforce issues and policies in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Co-author Dr. Caitlin McLean presents specific findings and implications raised by the Index. Following this presentation, Vermont early childhood leaders Melissa Riegel-Garrett and Tierney O'Meara discuss their state's universal prekindergarten initiative and its implications for the state's early childhood workforce.
  • Effective Components of Successful Early Learning-to-Kindergarten Transitions (REL Northwest, October 14, 2016). This webinar recording, Dr. Shannon Riley-Ayers of the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) and the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) presents three components that support a child's successful transition to school: leadership, effective instruction, and family and community engagement.
  • Preschool to Kindergarten: Successfully Navigating the Transition (REL Southwest, August 2, 2016). This bridge event webinar, "Preschool to Kindergarten: Successfully Navigating the Transition," was sponsored by the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Southwest on August 2, 2016. The transition to school is a rite of passage in the lives of children and their families. This webinar examined the transition as a process that begins during preschool and continues through grade 3, with a focus on the pivotal transition to kindergarten.
  • Child Assessment: A Key Component of Statewide Early Childhood Assessment Systems (REL Southwest, December 10, 2015). This bridge event symposium, "Bridging Research, Policy, and Practice in Early Childhood Education," was hosted in St. Francisville, Louisiana. This is the keynote presentation, "Child Assessment: A Key Component of Statewide Early Childhood Assessment Systems.
  • Building Educators' Understanding of Early Math to Promote Students' Later Math Success (REL West, October 22, 2015). In this archived webinar, Dr. Douglas Frye and Dr. Akihiko Takahashi share practical, research-based information about the IES Teaching Math to Young Children Practice Guide and recommendations for instruction.
  • Building Capacity for School Success in Families of Young English Learner Students (REL West, September 30, 2015).This archived webinar addresses the foundational knowledge of successful home-school partnerships and also discusses activities that can create a linguistically rich home and school environment to support young English learner students' school readiness.
  • Bridge Event—Data Collection and Use: An Early Childhood Perspective (REL Northeast and Islands, August 13, 2015). Across the country, states are increasingly focused on using comprehensive assessment systems to inform educational decision making in early childhood classrooms. A new REL Northeast & Islands study explores how several preschool programs in New England are collecting and using this data.
  • The State Role in Early Warning Data Systems (REL Midwest, March 24, 2015). REL Midwest and its Dropout Prevention Research Alliance hosted a webinar designed to provide participants with relevant research and practices to guide their own efforts in building state level support of early warning system (EWS) development and implementation.
  • Effective Teaching in Early Childhood Education (REL Mid-Atlantic, September 18, 2014). Effective teaching in early childhood has been linked with positive long-term student outcomes. The webinar focused on the importance of early childhood education and the critical role early childhood teachers play in supporting student success.
  • Building Coordinated Early Childhood Data Systems (REL Midwest and REL Southwest, April 17, 2014). Statewide early childhood data systems can provide valuable information for policymakers and practitioners, as well as families and caregivers. This webinar is designed to help participants better understand the current status of the development of early childhood data systems in states across the country.
  • Engaging Families in the Assessment Process and Use of Data: An Early Childhood Example (REL Northeast and Islands and REL Southwest, August 12, 2014). This Bridge Event Webinar hosted by the Early Childhood Education Research Alliance at REL Northeast & Islands examined the strategies that the Research Program Partnership at the University of Kansas employs to promote the use of education data at multiple levels, particularly families.
  • State Early Learning Standards: Lessons from Applying Implementation Research (REL Northeast and Islands, April 24, 2013). The Early Childhood Education Research Alliance at REL Northeast & Islands and the Center for Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) co-hosted this Bridge Event on the research around implementing early learning standards.
  • Comprehensive Early Childhood Education Assessment: Research, Policy, and Practice Perspectives (REL Northeast and Islands, July 19, 2012). The Early Childhood Education Research Alliance at REL Northeast & Islands hosted this Bridge Event to present research, policymaking, and practitioner perspectives on early childhood assessments. The webinar addressed some of the many questions about how these assessments should be designed, what they should measure, and whether or not they will improve children's academic outcomes.