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Early care and education quality and child outcomes

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Research-to-Policy, Research-to-Practice Brief series
Burchinal, Peg; Kainz, Kirsten; Cai, Karen; Tout, Kathryn; Zaslow, Martha; Martinez-Beck, Ivelisse & Rathgeb, Colleen
Publication Date: 
1 May 2010

The findings highlighted in this research brief suggest the following conclusions:

- The quality of children's early care and education, measured by widely used observational tools, is related to children's academic, cognitive, language, and social skills after taking background characteristics into account.

- However, the associations are modest. With some notable exceptions, the magnitude of the relationships between quality and child outcomes tended to be small by statistical standards.

- In the meta-analysis, associations were stronger for 2- and 3-year-olds than for 4-year-olds and were stronger for academic and language outcomes than for social outcomes.

- In the secondary analysis, the strength of the association between quality and child outcomes was slightly greater when the dimension of quality (for example, a measure of interactions or of the quality of instruction) was more closely aligned with the outcome examined, though this was not consistent across all the studies.

- Evidence emerged suggesting that there were larger benefits in terms of children's development when quality was in the good to high range.

- Finally, examining individual items in the ECERS and CLASS indicated that the relationship between quality and child language, academics, and social development was stronger for items focusing on interactions and instruction.