Improving Systems, Practices, and Outcomes

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Effectiveness of Infant and Early Childhood Programs

Photograph: A child care worker reads to a group of preschoolers. (Photograph by Alex Lazara)

In recent decades, research on the effectiveness of early childhood interventions has shifted from asking "Are early education programs effective?" to "How are certain elements of programs effective, in what ways, and for which children?" Research on the economics of early childhood interventions has shifted from asking "Are early education programs economically efficient?" to "How can programs produce the greatest benefits at the lowest cost?" The initiatives and research studies in this section address the following types of questions:

  • What types of outcomes can be expected from early intervention and early childhood programs?
  • How can these outcomes be measured?
  • Are these outcomes being achieved?
  • How do differences in interventions or program factors affect the outcomes?
  • How can the outcomes of interventions be differentiated from other influences on children's development?
  • What is the value of outcomes to children, parents, schools, and society as a whole?
  • How do the costs of early childhood interventions relate to the competing goals of other programs or national priorities?