Kathryn Tout is co-director for Early Childhood Development and a senior research scientist at Child Trends.Kathryn is a developmental scientist who investigates how policies and innovations in early care and education can promote program quality, effective teaching and the well-being of young children and their families. She conducts research and evaluation to understand and identify best practices in Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS), professional development for early childhood educators, early childhood curriculum and assessment, and family engagement in early care and education settings. She directs projects from Child Trends’ Minnesota office but works across the nation with a variety of local, state and federal partners.
At the federal level, Kathryn co-directs Child Trends’ Child Care and Early Education Policy and Research Analysis contract with the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Under this contract, Kathryn leads the Quality Initiatives Research and Evaluation Consortium (INQUIRE) which brings together researchers, policymakers and practitioners to identify critical issues in the field of quality improvement and develop guidance and tools on best practices and evaluation strategies. At the state and local levels, Kathryn directs QRIS evaluations and validation studies in Minnesota, New Mexico, Vermont and Kentucky. Kathryn also directs an evaluation of the Success by Six initiative in Philadelphia and the Reading by Third Grade initiative in the Twin Cities. As a co-Principal Investigator for a child care research partnership in Minnesota and Maryland, Kathryn studied early care and education choices, continuity and quality from the perspective of low-income parents. In each of her projects, Kathryn has developed strong, collaborative relationships with state administrators, program developers, implementation teams, researchers and other stakeholders to ensure that the research is policy-relevant and applicable to decision-making.
Kathryn has written literature reviews on topics related to qualifications and quality of the early childhood workforce, the effectiveness of professional development strategies, and promising models of coaching and consultation in early childhood. She co-edited a volume for Brookes Publishing in 2011 called Quality Measurement in Early Childhood. She has collaborated with colleagues on the development of conceptual models on topics including quality rating and improvement systems, early childhood professional development and child care decision-making. She has directed data collection efforts that include telephone surveys, in-depth interviews, focus groups, observations, and direct child assessments. She conducts both quantitative and qualitative analyses and has directed studies using multi-case study methods. Kathryn has been an invited speaker to a variety of conferences for researchers, policymakers, and practitioners.