The goal of early childhood education is to improve academic and social behavioral outcomes for children from birth through third grade. IES supports rigorous and relevant research in education and special education, evaluation, and survey data collection to improve the school readiness skills of young children and examine children's early learning and development during the preschool years (birth to five years old), as well as as children's progress through school (K-3rd grade and beyond). Early childhood initiatives at IES include evaluation studies and technical assistance programs; grant programs to fund research on prekindergarten children (ages 3 to 5); research on infants, toddlers, and young children (birth to five) with or at risk for disabilities; and cross-sectional and longitudinal studies.
Supporting Transition from Pre-K to Kindergarten. In 2016, the Institute funded the Supporting Early Learning From Preschool Through Early Elementary School Grades Research Network (Early Learning Network) to identify malleable factors that are associated with early learning and achievement from preschool through the early elementary school grades. The Early Learning Network (ELN) includes five Research Teams, an Assessment team, and a Network Lead. The transition from prekindergarten to kindergarten is an important early learning milestone for young children and their families. A recent ELN policy brief, Bridging the Gap: Easing the Transition from Pre-K to Kindergarten, summarizes results from ELN research studies and recommends practices and policies to address alignment between pre-k and kindergarten and improve early school success for young children.