The U.S. Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking was established by the bipartisan Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act of 2016 (P.L. 114-140), jointly sponsored by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senator Patty Murray and signed by President Barack Obama on March 30, 2016. The Act directed the Commission to consider how to strengthen government’s evidence-building and policymaking efforts. Specifically, the Act directed the Commission to study how the data that government already collects can be used to improve government programs and policies. The Commission was directed to submit to the Congress and the President a detailed statement of its findings and recommendations. The Commission submitted its final report, The Promise of Evidence-Based Policymaking, on September 7, 2017.
Theoretical and Conceptual Framework
- Provide a brief summary of the theoretical framework in the area of study (with references to published works) that guides this research.
- Demonstrate how the present research fits within the theoretical framework. o Identify how the framework will be used to analyze and interpret the research.
- Provide a statement or diagram that illustrates the conceptual framework of the study, including the relevant variables/constructs.
- Provide a brief Cnarrative of how the conceptual framework guides the research
Previous research in Early Childhood Education (ECE) defined program quality as two dimensional: structural and process, where both are vital to the development and nurturing of the children in the program. (Howes et al., 2008; Layzer & Goodson, 2006; Sylva et al., 2006; Thomason& La Paro, 2009). Process quality refers to the child’s day-to-day experiences in the classroom settings and encompasses the social, emotional, physical, and instructional aspects of children’s activities. It also includes the child’s interactions with teachers, peers, and materials. Process quality is seen as the proximal determinants of child development (Howes et al., 2008; Pianta et al., 2005; Thomason & La Paro, 2009).
Structural quality refers to group size, children-to-teacher ratio, and teachers’ qualifications (Howes et al., 2008; Thomason & La Paro, 2009). It is seen as the distal and regulatory aspects of the program. Research regards the quality structure as an important precondition of proximal process quality (Cryer,Tietze, Burchinal, Leal, & Palacios, 1999; Philips, Mekos, Scarr,McCartney, & Abbott-Shim, 2000; Phillipsen, Burchinal, Howes, & Cryer, 1997; Pianta et al., 2005; Vandell, 2004). All states in the USA early childhood programs are licensed by a governmental agency and have regulatory standards of governance for legally operating.
These regulations provide structural standards and are primarily focused on protecting children from harm rather than on developmental growth and early learning. This structural dimension includes class group size, ratio of adult to child, teacher’s educational levels and staff development, standards. Recently it has expanded to include to some extent, program policies and professional development. Until most recent, in New York City, the regulatory agency for early childhood education is The Department of Health (DOH), now called The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH).
The structural aspect is normally regulated by the City’s Early Childhood governing body for quality and compliance, placing emphasis the other way around, where structural quality was deemed the proximal and process quality the distal. The DOHMH in conjunction with the funding agency, the Agency of Children Services, have established the fact that the structural aspect acts as an indirect function of the classroom quality, while the process is a direct function of what takes place in the structural domain (Espinosa, 2002).
Research has shown that the potential benefits for young children in early childhood programs and society in general, are primarily dependent upon process quality (Vandell et al., 2010). In doing research for the current study, most of the previous studies to date in the USA, have focused on what is known as the ‘iron-triangle’ of structural quality: children-to-teacher ratio, group size, and teacher formal pre-service education (Phillipsen et al.,1997). As such, the purpose of the current research is to contribute to existing research evidence of process quality as it relates to high quality in varying types of early childhood program by comparing the various process quality indicators within and between the programs.
The research will also provide a comparative review of the New York City’s early childhood programs for future analysis of the presence, strength and consistency of the process quality as the proximal quality in programs of high quality. This research draws on the views of Vygotsky’s theory on the quality of preschool program. His view was that preschool programs are not expected to accelerate the instruction of pre academic and academic skills but rather to expand and enrich preschool activities such as playing and painting (Bodrova & Leong 2005). His theory is than instruction in a preschool setting should be focus on students understanding competencies rather than rote memorization of facts and skills. He continued by stating that preschool should provide children opportunities to mature rather than have them performing intentional behavior (Bodrova & Leong 2005).
According to Vygotsky, a high quality pre-school program is one that promotes development and includes the following constructs: amplification of a child’s learning and development with both age appropriate and developmentally appropriate activities; include dramatic play as a leading activity; utilizes child-teacher interaction that scaffold development and emphasizes underlying competencies which prepares child for future learning (Bodrova & Leong 2005). These two theoretical framework set the basis for observing the various classrooms and programs for high quality in the process domain by using the programs Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) scores and teacher survey which are both based on the process quality indicators and grounded in the Vygotsky’s theoretical views.
The variables include classroom organization at 3 levels: behavior management, productivity, instructional learning format; teacher’s emotional support at 4 levels: positive, negative, teacher sensitivity, regard for student perspective; instructional support at 3 levels: Instructional Support, Concept Development and Language Modeling. The research would also look at teacher quality and, job satisfaction and funding source as they relate to high quality.
Significance/Importance of the Study
State how the present research is related to National Education Goals, professional standards in the relevant field, or a statement of need by professional or governmental organizations, or advocacy groups.
- Provide any national or state data that supports the need for your study.
- State how the present research will extend theory in the area, or resolve inconsistencies in past research, or help address a social issue.
- Indicate how the currently existing research is insufficient in terms of theoretical perspectives, available data to inform practice, or methodologies.
- State how the study will make a contribution to the student’s field or discipline by overcoming theoretical, relevant data, or methodological shortcomings of existing studies.
Most of the earlier research on childcare quality focused on the structural aspect of childcare programs and concentrated mostly on center-based programs. Even then, quality was based on measuring children’s cognitive, psych-motor and affective development. Due to recent paradigm shift, the importance of childcare programs are now viewed within the school readiness framework and as such emphasis is placed on the process factor of quality.
Earlier forms of program quality evaluation instruments have been revised – ECERS revised to ECERS –R and newer instruments are been used, such as the CLASS instrument, so as to include process quality, Current research would provide additional data incorporating this paradigm shift. Additionally, not just quality childcare programs are on the for-front of educational reform but the question of high quality early childhood education. It has become a public issue. The federal, state and local government have made it a high priority concern. The nation’s attention to early childhood education has peeked since President Obama (2013) addressed the issue in his State of the Union address where he promised to expand Pre-Kindergarten in all states.
The president went on to state that early childhood education can help to close the achievement gap, promote high levels of success throughout a person’s lifetime and generate a return on investment for taxpayers that is too high to ignore (White House Office of the Press Secretary, 2013). This led to a “Strong Start for American Children Act” of November 2013 introduced by the House of Representative and the Senate. This Act states that high-quality learning opportunities should be provided for all children from birth to age 5 and provides access to state funds for creating and maintaining high-quality early childhood educational programs, especially for the at risk socio-economic and special needs population.
Most importantly, the act maximizes high quality learning opportunities for younger children, supporting the view of Marshall (2004) that a high-quality childcare program is one that supports optimal learning and development and that of Boschee & Jacobs, 1997, that it has a significant influence on children’s development and has the capability of promoting trust, autonomy, and a true sense of happiness and well – being in children, which can lead to positive social, emotional, intellectual, and physical development. Additional research is important in order to provide a comparative analysis of the quality of childcare programs with the additional stream of funding, which is expected to provide equity of high quality learning experience for all early childhood programs. This research proposes to support previous studies and findings, as well as provide new findings in the field of high quality in early childhood education, with the hope that comparative analysis would shed light on deficiencies in existing policies and bring us closer to solving the disparity and narrowing the achievement gap.
A well document research by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) resulted in the organization advocating for policy makers to institute full day pre-k programs for low-income family in funded and public school pre-k programs. Results of that study show that children attending full-day programs did better on mathematics and literacy tests than children in a 2.5 to 3-hour public preschool program, and the achievement gains continued at least until the end of first grade. It is the hope that this research likewise, will influence positive changes in the field of early childhood education. This research paid close attention to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, the No Child Left Behind of 2001, the Every Child Succeed of 2015 and noted that they all intended to provide opportunities for leveling the playing field for children to make the grade and become successful, lifelong learners.
Somehow the policy-makers have not gotten it right. With this new wave and focus on early childhood education as the solution to the nation’s educational problem, this research will examine the best predictor/s of high quality in the process domain and the presence of these elements of high quality in the various programs, thus establishing the accessibility of high quality early childhood programs for all preschoolers, especially those historically falls in the at-risk of failing cohort. The research study takes the position that the policy makers at the federal and state levels got it right: supporting learning readiness for all preschoolers translates into later academic success. With this new educational framework comes the need to evaluate its implementation.
Comparative analysis on high quality childcare can provide stakeholders with data in determining whether the funding is doing the job of improving low quality child care programs which often enroll children who are from disadvantaged families. The pledging of an extra 2 billion dollars of federal funding, under the presidency of President Obama (2014), for the improvement of early childhood programs has provided the basis for this research and its findings should be of value to early childhood agencies, school district leaders, program directors and professional development agencies in validating existing practices and developing new ones. Despite strong evidence that reinforces the importance of early learning for later success in school, few of the discussions address children below the age of five (Whitebook, et al., 2009).
I have included some views that caught my attention with respect to the value of a high quality early childhood education programs influencing children educationally and socially. Casper & Theilheimer (2010) stated that high quality in early childhood programs encourages healthy social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development in children (County of Orange, California, 1997-2002). Boocock, (1995) wrote that it promotes cognitive development and prepare children to succeed in school. Barnett (1885) found that it can produce large increases in IQ during the early childhood years and improvement in reading and math at the higher grades.