Analysis of Early School Years Planned in Two Major Studies

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Two ambitious studies of the early school years will soon be launched to analyze the components of preschool and elementary-level learning.

The studies, one by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the other by the Bank Street College of Education and the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, reflect the growing interest in the effects of the early years of children's schooling and care on their later development.

The Carnegie Foundation's two-year project will focus primarily on 4- to 8-year-old children, but will also look at programs that provide education for 3- and 4-year-olds. Its cost has not yet been determined.

"In our search for excellence in the schools, the early years are transcendentally important," said Ernest L. Boyer, president of the foundation, in announcing the project last week.

Will Develop Model

As a part of the study, Carnegie researchers will visit 20 public elementary schools across the country to analyze early education, including the development of language and the condition of teaching, according to Mr. Boyer. The project will also call on leading authorities in psychology, child development, and education to assess recent developments and help shape an early-childhood-education plan useful to policymakers, parents, and school practitioners.

Mr. Boyer is the author of reports on the high school and on undergraduate college education. His current focus on early education programs marks the foundation's recognition that "one level of education relates to every other" and that "the early years are also critical," he noted in an announcement.

"During kindergarten and elementary school a solid educational foundation must be laid," Mr. Boyer said. "If students are educationally successful in the early years, their prospects are enormously enhanced. If they fail, it will be almost impossible to fully overcome the problem later on."

The Bank Street-Wellesley Col4lege study has received $297,000 in funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and an as yet undisclosed amount from the Ford Foundation.

A Wellesley researcher discussed the 30-month project, called "The Public School Early Childhood Study," last week at a meeting of the Council of Great City Schools in Pittsburgh.

"The escalating needs of American families for high-quality early-childhood programs that also address their child-care needs will continue to make demands on every major institution concerned," according to a project summary distributed at the meeting.

The study will look at "the involvement of public schools in the creation of early-childhood programs" from practical and policy angles, according to the summary. Researchers will seek out programs that are both educationally and developmentally sound and that are responsive to the child-care needs of the families that use them.

Among the areas the study will examine are:

State and legislative initiatives for children 5 years old and younger that are now offered by or in cooperation with public schools, or are under development.

The impact of state initiatives on local school districts' policies and programs regarding preschool children.

The status of child care in states with and without public-school preschool measures.

The status of all-day and extended-day kindergarten programs.

The types of exemplary programs and services for children age 4 and younger that are being offered by, or in partnership with, the public schools.

How school-related early-childhood programs affect families, school personnel, and other providers of early-childhood programs.

The study's results will be disseminated through a series of short monographs that will include a state-policy report, a report on programs and community impact, and a final policy monograph entitled "Early Education Goes to School: The Issues."

Vol. 05, Issue 05

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