For decades, policy efforts expanded access to and improved the quality of pre-K for 3- and 4-year-old children. However, due to the fragmented system that oversees publicly funded pre-K, the field lacks cohesive data to inform policy efforts to strengthen and expand pre-K in an equitable and inclusive way. Comprehensive data are critical to understand the accessibility, quality, and impact of pre-K, especially for children and families who experience systemic and historical barriers to accessing high-quality pre-K programs. A unifying data framework can bring the field together around common questions about pre-K, and around ways to answer these questions with data in a consistent, equity-centered way.

The Early Childhood Data Collaborative at Child Trends, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is leading the development of a Pre-K Data Equity Framework (Framework) that will provide this kind of unity and consistency in the field.

Framework goals

The framework will help federal, state, territory, Tribal, and local leaders:

  • Answer key questions about their pre-K systems, and specifically about populations that have been marginalized by racism and systemic inequities.
  • Establish standardized and consistent ways to collect, manage, and use data that address issues related to equity in pre-K.
  • Assess data gaps and integration needs to support the use of pre-K data.
  • Identify clear action steps for creating a more equitable pre-K system based on the data they collect and the questions they are answering.

The Framework is being designed for publicly funded pre-K programs that serve 3- and 4-year-old children to support the development of language, literacy, math, and social skills prior to school entry. These programs include state-funded, locally funded, and Tribal pre-K and Head Start programs. We acknowledge that many children attend private pre-K programs; while these programs are not the primary focus, the Framework components are applicable for use in these settings as well.

Framework components

  • A list of essential questions to guide pre-K data system design and inform data strategies to promote the creation and ongoing improvement of equitable pre-K programs
  • A set of common metrics to answer essential policy questions on accessibility, quality, and measuring progress and outcomes
  • Data standards to ensure data quality and alignment
  • A planning guide for stakeholders to support implementation of the framework in states

Our approach

Over the next two years, the Framework will be developed and informed via:

  • Continuous input from a national consortium representing a range of experts to support development of the framework
  • A survey of pre-K administrators about their states’ capacity to implement the framework
  • Engagement of educators/practitioners, families, policymakers, and community leaders to inform, learn from, and support the field around the need, development, and use of the framework

The final framework is slated for public release in Fall 2023.

If you have questions or would like to learn more, please email the project team at [email protected] and someone will be in touch. For project updates and resources, please sign up to receive the ECDC Newsletter.

Consortium members

Albert Wat, senior policy director, Alliance for Early Success

Caroline Ebanks, early childhood team lead, National Center for Education Research (NCER), Institute of Education Sciences (IES), United Stated Department of Education

Christina Weiland, associate professor, School of Education, University of Michigan

Christine Alvarado, chief innovation officer, East Coast Migrant Head Start Project

Cindia Velasco, director of constituency services – education, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO)

Iheoma Iruka, founding director, Equity Research Action Coalition; faculty fellow, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

Karin Garver, early childhood education policy specialist, National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER)

Lea Austin, director, Center for the Study of Child Care Employment (CSCCE), Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE), University of California, Berkeley

Lee Turney, president, National Indian Head Start Directors Association (NIHSDA); early childhood development director, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe

Mandy Sorge, executive director, National Association of State Leaders in Early Education

Michele Sarche, associate professor, Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health, Department of Community and Behavioral Health, University of Colorado

Misty Moody, assistant commissioner of early learning, Tennessee Department of Education

Priscilla Hodge, operations and fiscal policy analyst, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Rachel Anderson, director, Policy and Research Strategy, Data Quality Campaign (DQC)

Richard Gonzales, director of interagency and special initiatives, Office of Child Care, Department of Health & Human Services/Administration for Children and Families (HHS/ACF)

Shantel Meek, professor of practice and founding director, The Children’s Equity Project, T. Denny School of Social and Family Dynamics, Arizona State University

Steven Hicks, assistant state superintendent for the Division of Early Childhood Development, Maryland State Department of Education

Susan Adams, deputy commissioner for Georgia Pre-K and instructional support, Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning

Tonia Durden, clinical associate professor, Birth through Five program coordinator, Georgia State University

Tony Ruggiero, education analyst, AEM Corporation

Victoria Jones, senior director of data, National Head Start Association

Publications

Data Is a Key Resource in Developing Equitable Pre-K Systems

Additional publications will be posted here throughout the project.

Funder

This project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The development of the framework does not necessarily reflect positions or policies of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Staff

Principal investigators: Dale Richards, Carlise King

Project director: Joy Thompson

Consortium team: Van-Kim Bui Lin, Silvana Esposito Hackett, Ja’Chelle Ball

Survey team: Sara Amadon, Gabriella Guerra, Emily Maxfield, Kara Ulmen

Engagement team: Elizabeth Jordan, Meg Bredeson

Race equity lead: Porsche Boddicker-Young