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Working With Practitioners on a Study on Data Collection and Use in Early Childhood Education Programs

Tue, April 12, 8:15 to 9:45am, Convention Center, Floor: Level One, Room 101


The Early Childhood Education Research Alliance of REL Northeast and Islands sponsored a study examining the collection and use of data in preschools. Alliance members, comprising state education leaders, served as advisors on the study design and report. The study was intended for an audience of both practitioners and policymakers.
In this poster findings from the study will be shared as well as information about how the study was developed and conducted. The study team will show how it worked with stakeholders and how this collaboration shaped all aspects of the study from design to dissemination and use of the final report.

Theoretical Framework
Early childhood education programs face increasing pressure to collect data, about both teachers and children, and to use those data to make decisions (Yazejian & Bryant, 2013). Research supports the potential value of using data in education settings for multiple purposes (Crommey, 2000, and Earl & Katz, 2006, as cited in Datnow, Park, & Wohlstetter, 2007). But little is known about whether or how early childhood education programs use data for these purposes. This study explored how early childhood education programs are collecting and using data, how they would like to use data, how they could use the data that they have, and the challenges they face in these efforts.

Four questions guided the study:
1. What data do administrators and teachers from a sample of preschools collect on early learning outcomes, dosage, and classroom quality?
2. How do these administrators and teachers use the data they collect?
3. How would these administrators and teachers like to use the data they collect?
4. What challenges do these administrators and teachers face in collecting and using data on early learning outcomes, dosage, and classroom quality that can inform policy or practice?

The study methods included interviewing administrators and teachers at seven preschools in a mid-sized city in the Northeast and analyzing child data already collected by two of these preschools.

Data Sources and Materials
Data from the study included interviews with administrators and teachers at seven preschools, as well as data on early learning outcomes, dosage, and classroom quality data.
The key findings from the study included:
• All participating preschools reported using ongoing, performance-based assessments of early learning outcomes.
• The participating preschools reported collecting attendance data; all used it for compliance purposes, but some were interested in using it for other purposes such as linking absences to learning outcomes.
• Although all participating preschools conducted classroom observations to inform teacher practice, the structure and formality of the processes varied.
• Challenges in using child data to inform program-level decisions included the time and difficulty of combining multiple sources of data and the potential for multiple explanations for trends observed in the data.

Scholarly Significance
The results from the study will help provide the early childhood community with information on data collection and use in early childhood education classrooms. The presentation will also provide an example of the type of research supported by the REL program.


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