Essential Organizational Supports for Early Education: The Development of a New Survey Tool to Measure Organizational Conditions

July, 2016
Stacy B. Ehrlich, Debra M. Pacchiano, Amanda G. Stein, and Stuart Luppescu

Decades of research evidence indicate that high-quality early education can positively affect the learning trajectories of disadvantaged young children. However, despite significant investments to improve what happens in the classroom, publicly funded pre-kindergarten programs continue to display instructional quality that is too weak to prepare children for kindergarten (Burchinal et al., 2010; Office of Head Start, Administration for Children & Families, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2013, 2014, 2015a). In 2014, UChicago Consortium launched a partnership with The Ounce of Prevention Fund (Ounce) to explore how the measurement of the five essentials could be adapted and applied to early childhood settings in an effort to help the early childhood field measure organizational conditions and consider how these conditions influence classroom practices.

This survey development brief documents the adaptation and refinement of the UChicago Consortium's K-12 Five Essentials survey for use in publicly-funded early education programs, including federally-funded Head Start, state-, and locally-funded programs that provide center-based services (not home-based services) to three- and four-year-old children. The resulting Five Essentials-Early Education consists of two surveysone for early educators and one for parentsdesigned to capture indicators of processes occurring at the school or center level that, in prior research, have been linked to improvements in student learning.

This brief encompasses the first two years of survey development. A validation study is currently underway, and researchers are investigating both the teacher and parent surveys to understand whether responses to these surveys are related to classroom and child outcomes across different settings and with different populations.

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