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A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum (2024)

Chapter: 10 Conclusions, Recommendations, and Research Needs

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Suggested Citation:"10 Conclusions, Recommendations, and Research Needs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"10 Conclusions, Recommendations, and Research Needs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"10 Conclusions, Recommendations, and Research Needs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"10 Conclusions, Recommendations, and Research Needs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"10 Conclusions, Recommendations, and Research Needs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"10 Conclusions, Recommendations, and Research Needs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"10 Conclusions, Recommendations, and Research Needs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"10 Conclusions, Recommendations, and Research Needs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"10 Conclusions, Recommendations, and Research Needs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"10 Conclusions, Recommendations, and Research Needs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"10 Conclusions, Recommendations, and Research Needs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"10 Conclusions, Recommendations, and Research Needs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"10 Conclusions, Recommendations, and Research Needs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"10 Conclusions, Recommendations, and Research Needs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"10 Conclusions, Recommendations, and Research Needs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"10 Conclusions, Recommendations, and Research Needs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"10 Conclusions, Recommendations, and Research Needs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"10 Conclusions, Recommendations, and Research Needs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"10 Conclusions, Recommendations, and Research Needs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"10 Conclusions, Recommendations, and Research Needs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"10 Conclusions, Recommendations, and Research Needs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"10 Conclusions, Recommendations, and Research Needs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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Suggested Citation:"10 Conclusions, Recommendations, and Research Needs." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27429.
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CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND RESEARCH NEEDS 10-1 10 Conclusions, Recommendations, and Research Needs Early childhood is a period of great developmental change that sets the foundation for all later learning and development. High-quality preschool is a key context for these developmental changes. However, as characterized throughout the report, early childhood education in the United States has been fragmented, leading to highly varied educational experiences for children. The early education system has not adequately accounted for the diverse voices, experiences, strengths, needs, and lived realities of all children, their families, and the early education workforce. With decades of research in early education showing significant effects of curricula on teaching and learning, there is a need for high-quality curricula to be grounded in strong evidence. This committee was tasked with articulating a new vision for high-quality preschool curriculum with special attention to the needs of Black, Latine, and Indigenous children; multilingual learners; children with disabilities; and children experiencing poverty. As a part of conceptualizing a new approach to high-quality and equitable experiences for all children, it is crucial to reimagine the preschool curriculum. Many public programs are using curricula that do not meet the needs of all children. There is compelling evidence that access to high-quality early learning experiences may be limited and inadequate based on factors such as a child’s race, location, gender, home language, disability status, and socioeconomic status. It is crucial to recognize that these characteristics themselves are not the cause of differences in experiences. Rather, differences in experiences stem from broader structural factors (e.g., resource inequity, discriminatory policies, biased interactions) that perpetuate disparate outcomes. Forming a vision for high-quality curriculum that supports equity is a highly creative, complex endeavor in which multiple demands must be met and multiple resources used. The committee had to consider program quality—which encompasses structural aspects such as teacher–child ratios, teacher education and certification, and teacher compensation, as well as process quality—such as use of evidence-based curricula, the linguistic richness of teacher–child interactions, and teachers’ consistent emotional responsiveness to all children. These dimensions of quality are interconnected and influenced by other systemic factors, such as funding and policy actions. Underinvestment in expanding access to high-quality experiences creates a barrier that often leaves even eligible children underserved and affects families from marginalized communities disproportionality. To achieve this new vision, the committee considered a rich tapestry of factors that undergird curriculum effectiveness. These factors include the written content of the curriculum itself, including the learning theories underlying curricular approaches and adaptations available; cultural and linguistic appropriateness; the learning environments in which the curriculum will Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND RESEARCH NEEDS 10-2 be delivered; supports and resources for teachers, including professional learning experiences (including preservice education and ongoing professional development), workplace culture, and teacher wellness; and the systems and policies in place, including drivers that influence policy makers. Most important and central to these factors and to the vision is the child. The committee emphasizes the importance of every child being able to access and experience early learning environments that promote joy, affirmation, and enriching learning opportunities; protect them from stress and adversity; and prepare them for success in school and life. The preschool curriculum is a critical tool for ensuring that children are in early learning environments that meet these expectations. To ensure that children have the opportunity to thrive, it is crucial to acknowledge and understand the detrimental effects of inequities and adversities on children’s minds and lives. This report presents evidence and examples of researched and other promising curricula, instructional strategies, and pedagogy that recognize and affirm children’s cultural and linguistic strengths, which play a critical role in promoting their social and academic potential. The committee’s vision for high-quality preschool curricula is characterized in Box 10-1. Box 10-1 Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curricula The committee’s vision for high-quality preschool curricula aims to fulfill the promise of an education that fosters holistic and healthy development and learning for every child, regardless of place or socioeconomic status, and affirms children’s full identities, including race, culture, home language, gender, and ability. It is grounded in an equity and justice- oriented perspective from inception to implementation and evaluation, and therefore is designed with an understanding of the diverse contexts of children’s development, including adverse and traumatic conditions. Curricula aligned with the committee’s vision would: • incorporate the perspectives, experiences, cultures, languages, strengths, and needs of a diverse range of children, families, and workforce settings; • include rich and meaningful content that centers child engagement and agency; • include well-designed learning experiences, intentional responsive teaching strategies, well-defined objectives and outcomes, embedded formative assessments, and differentiation based on understanding children’s ability levels, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, interests, and dispositions; • have a scope and sequence that follow children’s ways of thinking and learning with research-validated learning trajectories, are culturally and linguistically affirming, and include effective supports for children with disabilities; and • demonstrate effectiveness in yielding positive school and life outcomes for the children and families they are intended to reach. Importantly, the committee recognizes that attention is also needed for issues of implementation and continuous quality improvement within a broader system. Curriculum in and of itself will not solve the deep, intractable challenges faced in early education from inadequate funding, inadequate wages, uneven workforce preparation and supports, and growing issues with staff recruitment and retention, to larger social and economic inequities. However, curricula can play a critical role in ensuring that, in spite of these systemic challenges, children, through their interactions with teachers, other adults, and peers in the Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND RESEARCH NEEDS 10-3 learning environment will experience safe, healthy, affirming, and enriching learning opportunities that promote lifelong success. KEY CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS The committee’s statement of task did not include evaluation or rating of existing curricula against the criteria outlined in the committee’s vision. The committee’s key conclusions and recommendations are directly aligned with specific questions outlined in the study’s charge and fall across the following four categories: (1) guidance for the content design, development, selection, implementation, and formative and summative evaluation of high-quality, equity- driven curriculum; (2) supports and professional development needed for equitable and effective curriculum implementation; (3) funding mechanisms, state and federal policies, and innovations to support the selection and use of effective and equitable preschool curricula; and (4) creation of an evidence base to advance curriculum development and implementation. For each of these categories, the committee briefly summarized the findings from the chapters that support the committee’s key conclusions and recommendations. These recommendations are followed by a research agenda focused on addressing current gaps in understanding the components, criteria, and features of high-quality preschool curricula. Given the interdependency of the recommendations and recognizing the iterative and ongoing nature of implementation, the committee’s stance is to align with the principles of continuous improvements models (Figure 10-1), to enable refining and formulating effective implementation strategies. In addition, the committee acknowledges the potential challenges in implementing some recommendations simultaneously. A continuous improvement framework can help surface important outcomes for measures that are in development, which can then be incorporated into the curriculum. Moreover, the staging of implementation may differ based on the needs identified by programs and states. Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND RESEARCH NEEDS 10-4 FIGURE 10-1 A continuous improvement model for advancing implementation of the committee’s recommendations. Such models offer a well-established approach for programs and localities to coordinate and optimize the effectiveness of their improvement efforts by understanding their specific needs and circumstances, eliminating ineffective practices, prioritizing the needs of underserved populations, and strategically planning and implementing curricula that meet the needs of the children and communities they serve. Making progress will also necessitate robust ongoing evaluation of successful and unsuccessful strategies to inform the identification of future needs. This process can help create a multidimensional improvement framework encompassing the holistic development of the child, the specifics of the program setting, and the broader sociocultural context of the community to guide future iterations. Equity-Driven Preschool Curricula: Guidance for Content Design, Development, Selection, and Implementation The preschool years are a sensitive period for establishing robust foundational skills that can significantly impact developmental trajectories. Throughout their early years, children’s diverse lived experiences and family contexts profoundly shape how and what they learn, and their environments serve as rich sources of learning. These experiences can also provide insights for identifying curricular needs across diverse settings. Throughout the report, the committee has presented robust evidence that access to high- quality early learning experiences is essential for children’s development, yielding important Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND RESEARCH NEEDS 10-5 academic and lifelong outcomes. Curriculum has emerged as an important component with the potential to positively impact instructional quality; classroom processes; and early learning for children, including those from minoritized backgrounds. Chapter 2 presents the evidence on what is known about the effects of preschool curriculum, noting a tension between the curricula that are predominantly used in preschool programs and those that have shown positive impacts on children’s learning in targeted outcome domains. Evidence suggests that systematically combining different evidence-based, domain-specific curricula or integrating domain-specific curricula into comprehensive curriculum to support all domains of children’s learning may yield promising impacts on children’s learning. These findings highlight the need for a vision for developing new and refining existing curricula (as articulated in Box 10-1). In developing curriculum, it is important to consider the science of early childhood learning and development, in addition to neurobiological and sociobehavioral research; these studies provide nuanced understanding of the influences of early life experiences on early childhood development and brain development. Chapter 3 characterizes this research to illustrate how it can lead to the construction of psychologically safe spaces that promote positive learning outcomes and success in school and life. The chapter also emphasizes the significance of the preschool years as a highly sensitive period of opportunity for enhanced learning and development; the inherent benefits of learning; and the importance of nurturing, responsive, and supportive early caregiving environments. For children facing limited access to stimulating environments and positive experiential inputs, the preschool years can be a time of heightened vulnerability and missed opportunities, potentially leading to disparate outcomes in later years. Given the evidence presented throughout the report, it is clear that curriculum significantly affects teaching and learning. Curriculum can support teachers’ acquisition of content knowledge and ability to implement new approaches that support children’s learning. Developing high-quality curricula is an opportunity to help educators support the learning and development of all children and leverage the varied contexts and experiences that shape children’s learning and development. High-quality early childhood curricula must be equitable; individually, culturally, and linguistically affirming; supportive; and interactive. The evidence presented in Chapter 4 provides a framework for the development of research-based and empirically validated curricula and points to the essential components and characteristics of equitable preschool curriculum based on the most robust available evidence of the efficacy of existing curricula, starting with the need to reject the false dichotomies that have plagued the field. The key characteristics of high-quality, equity-driven preschool curriculum (elaborated on in earlier chapters) include research- and evidence-based child outcomes; scope and sequence; a focus spanning developmental domains and content areas or coherently incorporated domain- specific curriculum; content and learning domains that are covered in depth; clearly defined and specific developmentally appropriate learning goals; well-designed learning experiences and interactions; an emphasis on responsive, intentional teaching; guidance for preparing developmentally appropriate, engaging learning environments, materials, and schedules; support for culturally relevant, responsive, and sustaining teaching and learning; support for multilingual learners and various language systems; individuation and effective supports for children with identified disabilities; supports for individualized instruction for every child; supports for family Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND RESEARCH NEEDS 10-6 engagement; ongoing assessment tools and strategies aligned with goals and experiences; and professional development. Creating curricula that attend to each child’s needs and foster their strengths does not necessitate a fully differentiated approach. By definition, well-constructed curricula offer inherent benefits for a broad spectrum of learners. However, children with specific needs and strengths, such as multilingual learners (Chapter 7) and those with disabilities (Chapter 6), may require additional support and adaptations. The key lies in striking a balance between core elements that benefit all children and intentional design features created, and included from inception, to address the unique needs of diverse learners. Research, grounded in rigorous, asset- based, and community-rooted principles, can provide the knowledge and resources necessary to guide the development and revision of curricula and expand the availability of curricula that incorporate these features. Conclusions Based on these findings, the committee concluded: Conclusion 1: To create psychologically safe spaces that promote positive learning outcomes and success in school and life, it is vital to support holistic, healthy development and enable children to realize their potential by leveraging their assets and building on their prior knowledge—which is a product of their cultural and linguistic experiences at home and in their communities. Conclusion 2: Learning is shaped by the interaction between the biological processes involved in brain development and early life experiences, including those with adults, other children, and the broader environment. Such interactions are embedded within social, cultural, and linguistic contexts. Children learn in a multiplicity of ways, including child- initiated and teacher-guided play, exploration, observation, social engagement, intentional teaching in small and large groups, individual hands-on experiences, and other pedagogy that is responsive to their strengths and interests. Conclusion 3: In the development and evaluation of preschool curricula, it is important to include efforts to identify and reject long-held biases, deficit framings, and/or stereotyped assumptions about children from racially, culturally, and linguistically minoritized communities, as well as children with disabilities and children experiencing poverty. Conclusion 4: Evidence-based preschool curriculum that is well implemented has been shown to help promote equitable outcomes in mathematics, language, literacy, and social- emotional skills seen at kindergarten entry, particularly for children living in poverty and Black and Latine children. However, studies have generally not assessed curriculum effects on home language development for multilingual learners. Conclusion 5: A preschool curriculum that provides guidance for content-specific teaching, rich and varied learning experiences, and supports for all aspects of children’s development (including linguistic and cultural adaptations) will likely be most effective in improving child outcomes. Some localities have created such curricula with promising impacts, largely by systematically combining different evidence-based, domain-specific Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND RESEARCH NEEDS 10-7 curricula or integrating domain-specific curricula into a comprehensive curriculum to support all domains of children’s learning. Conclusion 6: Early childhood leaders and practitioners typically use comprehensive preschool curricula that are intended to address all domains of children’s learning and development and are required by their funding agencies. When compared with domain- specific curricula, the most widely used comprehensive curricula have shown significantly smaller gains in domain-targeted outcomes, such as mathematics, science, literacy, and social-emotional development at kindergarten entry. There has been little evidence of differential effectiveness for nontargeted domains. Much of this research has been conducted in Head Start and other public programs serving children from marginalized groups, including children from families with low-income, multilingual learners, and Black and Latine children. Conclusion 7: Nearly one-third of young children growing up in the United States are growing up with exposure to more than one language in the home and could be considered multilingual. Research has shown that the most effective language model for multilingual learners teaches them English systematically while actively supporting their home language development. Full proficiency in more than one language is associated with cognitive, cultural, social, and economic benefits. However, most states, school districts, and local programs have yet to develop a procedure for accurately identifying preschool multilingual learners, rarely provide dual language instruction, and have few bilingual early childhood educators qualified to support home language development or provide dual language instruction. Additional research, materials, professional development, and multilingual educators can support the realization of the new vision. Conclusion 8: Although family child care settings enroll a small proportion of children overall, they enroll a larger proportion of children from racially and linguistically marginalized populations, children from rural communities, and children from families experiencing poverty. Mixed-age programs are also common in family child care settings. However, few commercially available preschool curricula are designed for family child care settings, and few offer guidance in adapting curriculum or sequencing content for mixed-age groups. Recommendations Based on these conclusions, the committee makes the following recommendations: RECOMMENDATION 1: In the next 5 years, federal agencies, state and school district policy makers, foundations and funders, publishers, and teacher educators should support the revision of existing curricula and development of new curricula to align with the committee’s vision. These curricula should be developed or revised by collaborative teams of researchers, curriculum developers, teacher educators, and practitioners—informed by the needs of children, families, and communities— following equity-based and rigorous, empirically driven, iterative design and evaluation processes as described in this report. Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND RESEARCH NEEDS 10-8 RECOMMENDATION 2: In the next 5 years, program leaders should transition to adopting and implementing evidence-validated curricula that, when integrated coherently, support the learning and development of the whole child. Essential features of evidence-based curricula include developmentally appropriate learning goals, a scope and sequence, coherent alignment with specific domains, and rich content. RECOMMENDATION 3: In the next 5 years, researchers and curriculum developers should (1) develop and evaluate appropriate criteria and metrics for assessing racial, cultural, linguistic, and ability bias in curricula; (2) continually review curricula for these potential racial, cultural, linguistic, and ability biases; and (3) develop and provide adaptations and revisions so that the curricula are culturally and linguistically responsive and foster an anti-bias, anti-racist, multilingual, and inclusive approach in early childhood education. RECOMMENDATION 4: From the outset, curriculum developers, in partnership with researchers and teacher educators, should develop curricula and supporting materials in Spanish, English, and other languages commonly spoken by children with a home language other than English. Whenever possible, curriculum developers should include adaptations for other language groups and those who speak dialects of English, such as African American Vernacular English (AAVE); they should also consider the unique approach warranted in Indigenous communities that are invested in language revitalization and maintenance. RECOMMENDATION 5: In the next 5 years, funders should support the development of new, or revision of existing, child assessment measures aligned with the committee’s vision. These assessment measures should be both formative and summative, should consider the role of bias (e.g., race, language, culture, disability status) in assessment, and should capture the full range of meaningful child outcomes and experiences (i.e., including positive social-emotional development, positive racial identity for children of color, and bilingualism/biliteracy for multilingual learners). Empowering Educators: Supports and Professional Development for Equitable and Effective Curriculum Implementation Educators play a central role in facilitating connections between children, families, and curricular content. Supporting the professional needs of this crucial workforce is critical to ensure high-quality, equitable learning experiences for all children. Chapter 5 highlights the need to provide educators with the professional development and supports required for cultivating warm and affirming relationships with children, to ensure inclusive and prosocial peer interactions, and to provide consistent and proactive management of the overall classroom environment—all of which are integral elements of curriculum reform. Evidence shows that positive relationships with teachers and supportive classroom management practices can help mitigate stressful encounters that children might have with their peers, which can diminish Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND RESEARCH NEEDS 10-9 children’s sense of safety and their capacity and motivation to learn—factors that can affect the implementation of even the best-designed curricula. Educators need time and support to develop skills and expertise across various content areas, to develop reciprocal and engaged partnerships between families and educators (as discussed throughout this report), and to deepen expertise in culturally responsive teaching and professional learning opportunities to recognize potential biases. As noted earlier in this chapter and in Chapter 2, because of the fragmentation of the early learning landscape in the United States, the current early childhood education workforce has a wide variety of professional development and qualifications. Moreover, the committee notes that, in order to cultivate advancements in child learning, preschool curriculum must be able to be implemented with high fidelity by teachers with a wide range of preparation and skills. However, systemic underinvestment and inconsistent early education policies are a persistent barrier to fostering a workforce that is knowledgeable, skilled, and empowered to support the learning and development of young children. It is critical for teacher preparation programs to articulate and embed qualifications that would allow educators to develop the knowledge base to effectively educate young multilingual learners (see Chapter 7) and increase attention on supporting the individual development and learning of children with disabilities, helping them achieve the goals in their individualized education programs and helping teachers embrace inclusion with a sense of efficacy (see Chapter 6). Evidence highlights the need for educative curricula for the early childhood workforce, which will require effort on the part of curriculum developers to build in specific content and structures—including domain content, consider how children think and learn about that content, and develop pedagogical strategies to support children’s thinking and learning. Using educative curriculum materials can foster change in the broader educational system and in professional development in particular (see Chapter 4). The committee emphasizes that the well-being of educators extends beyond professional development and coaching to include psychosocial, economic, and job-related supports, as well as their ability to cope with high levels of stress, which can influence attention, classroom management, quality of instruction, and their own ability to manage implicit bias (see Chapter 5). Both systemic and personal approaches to support educator well-being are necessary, including efforts to align the complexity, skill level, and essential nature of educating young children with the wages and other rewards provided to this essential workforce. Professional development and coaching focused on curricula need to embrace the larger context in which educators teach and children learn. Specific education and coaching on scaffolding of inclusive and prosocial peer interactions; eliminating biases that undermine the development of close, affirming relationships with all children; and reliance on warm, consistent, and proactive classroom management strategies are essential to the effective delivery of equitable curriculum. The committee recognizes that implementing curriculum changes that foster the learning and development of diverse populations will be an iterative process that requires sustained commitment; collaboration with teacher educators; buy-in from teachers; provision of supports and professional development to facilitate implementation; ongoing assessment of progress; and further research on, and development of, research- and evidence- based curricula. Employing a continuous improvement model (Figure 10-1) may increase Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND RESEARCH NEEDS 10-10 feasibility for program providers by encouraging ongoing refinement and adaptation to meet the needs of the communities they serve. Conclusions Based on these findings, the committee concluded: Conclusion 9: Providing educators of young children with psychosocial, economic, and professional development supports is critical; however, the availability of such supports varies greatly based on funding streams and governing systems. Conclusion 10: Educators of young children are not only intentional teachers but also sources of nurturance and security for children. The effective realization of these roles depends greatly on teachers’ attention to fostering reciprocal and responsive relationships, examining and checking their biases, and cultivating a positive emotional environment, all of which affect the quality of the broader learning environment on which the provision of effective and equitable curricula depends. Conclusion 11: Preschool programs generally offer children warm and emotionally supportive environments; however, some populations of young children, such as Black children and children who are multilingual learners, may experience various individual and systemic inequities (e.g., biased perceptions of behavior, assumptions about the value of languages other than English, conflictual teacher–child relationships). On average, preschool programs fall short in offering children rich content and in advancing children’s thinking. This is especially true in mathematics, early language, literacy, science, and support for emerging multilingualism. Conclusion 12: Strong connections between families and preschool staff are essential for understanding when and how to adapt preschool curricula to address the strengths and needs of children, in order to create a meaningful link between home and school experiences. Unfortunately, research continues to show that minoritized families, especially Black families and to some extent families that speak a language other than English, are less likely to report close relationships with teachers; likewise, teachers report less close and trusting relationships with them. Thus, it is important that curricula include guidance for educators focused on effective approaches and strategies to foster inclusive and culturally responsive home–school partnerships in support of children’s learning. Recommendations Based on these conclusions, the committee makes the following recommendations: RECOMMENDATION 6: Curriculum developers should incorporate resources and structures that help teachers gain knowledge about effective teaching strategies and practices, including bolstering content knowledge and understanding how children’s thinking and learning can be best supported. RECOMMENDATION 7: Early childhood educators should collaborate with families to co-construct curricular components that are meaningful and relevant for Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND RESEARCH NEEDS 10-11 all children in the classroom; authentically elevate the role of families in supporting their children’s development; recognize the diversity in and value of family practices and integrate these practices when possible; honor their languages, cultures, beliefs, traditions, and talents; and invite these assets into the classroom. RECOMMENDATION 8: Program leaders and policy makers should ensure that educators receive professional development, regular in-classroom coaching, and access to materials tied to the implementation of evidence-based curricula, including supports for delivering curricula in children’s home language alongside English, or for monolingual English-speaking teachers, supporting multilingual learners through cross-linguistic connections and other research-informed practices that bridge languages. RECOMMENDATION 9: Curriculum developers should provide scaffolded supports 29, developed in partnership with researchers and teacher educators, that increase opportunities for effectively integrating children with disabilities in general education early childhood settings while effectively meeting their unique developmental needs and fostering healthy peer relationships. Investing in Equity: Funding Mechanisms, Policy Strategies, and Innovations to Support Selection and Implementation of Effective Preschool Curricula Underpinning the committee’s vision (Box 10-1) is the imperative to increase capacity for implementing and sustaining equitable access to high-quality preschool curricula in high-quality programmatic settings. The early childhood system is greatly varied with a diversity of program types—each governed by policies, regulations, quality standards, and funding streams that can differ both across and within states. While program administrators and educators retain some flexibility in selecting curricula, families and educators often possess limited direct influence over standards development, potentially hindering responsiveness to diverse needs. Successfully expanding access to positive early childhood experiences also requires a nuanced understanding of community needs. As emphasized throughout this report, both community engagement and the holistic needs of the child need to be central tenets when implementing policy and programmatic changes. While high-quality early childhood education programs and access to high-quality curricula are demonstrably linked to long-term benefits across various life domains, research also exposes inequities in access and outcomes. Children from marginalized communities—including children of color, multilingual learners, children with disabilities, and children from low-income households—consistently experience less access to high-quality learning opportunities compared with their middle-class, White peers, highlighting the early education system’s shortcomings in realizing its full potential for all. 29 Scaffolding is the process through which instructional supports are added to facilitate mastery of tasks by building on existing knowledge. As tasks are mastered, these supports can be adjusted and eventually removed. Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND RESEARCH NEEDS 10-12 Improving supports for curriculum implementation can help ensure equitable access to high-quality preschool curricula (see Chapter 8). Fidelity of implementation remains a critical factor often overlooked in state-funded programs. Effective assessment practices, integrated into daily routines and used for continuous improvement and collaboration, can significantly enhance outcomes across all levels, from individual children to families, classrooms, and broader systems. Furthermore, families play a crucial role in bolstering both assessment and instruction. Integrated assessment strategies that involve parents, families, and caregivers can foster meaningful teacher–family partnerships. These partnerships provide valuable insights into children’s strengths, historical context, and cultural background, ultimately informing effective instructional learning strategies that promote all children’s learning and development. A key challenge in moving the field forward toward the committee’s new vision is utilizing existing policy levers that can help shift choice and use of curricula to those that are aligned with the evidence base (e.g., providing public funding to incentivize developing and using evidence-based curricula, shifting regulations to allow and eventually require use of evidence-based curricula in public preschool programs). Expanding access to high-quality preschool experiences is a multifaceted endeavor that will include establishing a robust infrastructure for continuous assessment, monitoring, and improvement, as well as funding research on curriculum development and optimal program practices; creating and enhancing workforce support and development; and promoting widespread adoption of high-quality, evidence-based curricula. Conclusions Based on these findings, the committee concluded: Conclusion 13: To expand access to high-quality early educational experiences, there is a significant need for infrastructure to support the development, implementation, and evaluation of curricula and to encourage adoption of new or revised curricula that align with the committee’s vision. This includes collaboration between researchers and practitioners, data collection that captures characteristics of the populations being served and the curricula being used in the programs children attend, quality measures that capture the strengths and lived experiences of all children, and professional development and supports for practitioners. Conclusion 14: High turnover rates are prevalent in the field of early education. Providing educators with the financial security and benefits that promote their physical and mental health is necessary for supporting the implementation of high-quality, equitable curriculum and maintaining a diverse, well-qualified workforce that is large enough to meet the demand of families for high-quality educational experiences for young children. Ongoing data collection is critical to assessing and addressing the needs of educators, programs, and the families and communities they serve. Recommendations Based on these conclusions, the committee makes the following recommendations: Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND RESEARCH NEEDS 10-13 RECOMMENDATION 10: The U.S. Department of Education, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and state early childhood education agencies, should • create a research-practice-partnership network of diverse researchers and early childhood programs that are willing to engage in research to study curricula and practices aligned with the committee’s vision; • create a data system for capturing details on curricula being used in programs, along with characteristics of the children being served, the quality of programs, and a comprehensive set of outcomes; • align quality metrics, measures, and rating systems with the new vision of curricula and associated practices; • incentivize the adoption and use of high-quality curricula that align with the new vision; and • provide quality improvement supports and resources for addressing equity and inclusion gaps. RECOMMENDATION 11: As curricula aligned with the committee’s vision are adopted and implemented, state and local early care and education agencies and public education institutions should develop policies, provide technical assistance, and target funding to support ongoing professional development for educators that aligns with the vision, as well as strong curriculum implementation, with strategies and resources for addressing the high staffing turnover rates experienced across the country in early childhood programs. RECOMMENDATION 12: As curricula aligned with the committee’s vision are adopted and implemented, state and local early care and education agencies and public education institutions should identify opportunities to expand children’s access to schools, communities, and programs that implement these curricula and associated practices. Bridging the Knowledge Gap: Creating an Evidence Base to Advance Curriculum Development and Implementation Building on findings discussed earlier in this chapter, the committee underscores the continued necessity of improving the evidence base for curriculum efficacy across diverse populations. Establishing an evidence base that demonstrates effectiveness in varied contexts is key to realizing the committee’s vision. Critical questions remain unanswered. For example, more research is needed to explore the effectiveness of culturally and linguistically responsive curricula. Additionally, limited research exists on the impact of curricula within diverse early childhood settings, such as family child care, for-profit organizations, charter schools, and faith- based institutions, as well as on less commonly assessed child outcomes such as creativity, problem-solving, positive racial identity development, inclusive social skills, and the language development of multilingual learners in both their home language and English. Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND RESEARCH NEEDS 10-14 Research on early care and education quality and on early childhood curriculum largely has developed in silos. As a result, little is known about the reciprocal relationship between the overall process and structural quality of the settings within which curriculum is delivered and features of curricula that support early learning for all children. Due to statistical power and sampling limitations, the evidence is also somewhat limited on whether specific curriculum show differential benefits by child characteristics, although some evidence suggests that some curricula have larger impacts for certain child subgroups compared with their peers. The committee’s review of the literature found a need for evaluations of preschool quality and effectiveness that incorporate information about the curriculum used and its features with information about the broader learning environments in which the curriculum is being delivered and for which groups of children the curriculum is most effective. This is crucial, as equity must be considered in all phases of research and development (see Chapter 4). Chapter 9 highlights the need for data, as well as qualitative and quantitative data collection methods, in order to describe the rich and complex landscape of how preschool curricula are implemented and delivered and to examine and understand variations in effects. Determining whether curricula are effective requires establishing valid comparisons of outcomes from children who are participating in the curriculum and those in alternative conditions (e.g., control groups). These comparisons must reflect real-world settings encountered by program administrators, educators, and parents. By accounting for these contextual nuances, research findings can provide more valuable insights into the true and generalizable effectiveness of a given curriculum. Conclusions Based on these findings, the committee concluded: Conclusion 15: Additional research could help determine the contextual factors and child characteristics that affect the differential effectiveness of curriculum approaches and their implementation. Conclusion 16: To date, most evaluation studies of curricula have not assessed important outcomes such as development of children’s creativity, positive identity, curiosity, and emergent multilingualism. Moreover, limited evidence is available on the effects of curricula on child outcomes such as sense of belonging, agency, and group pride; evidence is also limited on how teachers’ implicit and explicit biases affect curriculum implementation. Such evidence is needed to ensure that curricula meet the needs of the whole child. Conclusion 17: Currently, preschool curricula give little attention to the inequitable impact of racism, English language learning status, and disability status. More research is needed to understand the role of preschool curricula in supporting children’s intersectional identities, in order to promote justice through healthy child development, equitable outcomes, and school success. Conclusion 18: Culturally relevant and sustaining curricula and teaching have been identified as supports for important aspects of development, such as positive identity and Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND RESEARCH NEEDS 10-15 racial pride. Additional research is needed to guide the development and implementation of culturally and linguistically affirming, anti-bias curricula for preschool programs, as well as to evaluate existing curricula on these dimensions. This includes much-needed research on defining what specifically is included in culturally and linguistically affirming and anti-bias curricula, what is effective, and what should be measured as outcomes. Conclusion 19: Curricula with scaffolded supports, targeted adaptations, and accommodation for children with disabilities are crucial for authentically, meaningfully, and effectively supporting the full inclusion of children with disabilities. Future research could inform the development and testing of curricula that are designed for inclusive settings to address identified instructional needs and support equitable access, experiences, and supports for young children identified with disabilities or developmental delays. Recommendations Based on these conclusions, the committee makes the following recommendations: RECOMMENDATION 13: In the next 5 years, publishers should collect and provide rigorous and meaningful evidence of improved short- and long-term academic and developmental outcomes for all children, with particular attention to Black, Latine, Indigenous, Asian, and Pacific Islander children; multilingual learners; children with disabilities; and children living in poverty. They should also document the experiences of children in grades K–2 and determine whether there is coherence in the curricular vision across the transition from preschool to these early grades. RECOMMENDATION 14: Researchers should continue to conduct rigorous evaluations of curriculum approaches, along with implementation research, to assess the extent to which curricula promote children’s holistic and healthy development and learning, regardless of place or socioeconomic status, and affirm children’s full identities, including race, culture, home language, gender, and ability. RECOMMENDATION 15: To build the necessary evidence base over the next 5–10 years, relevant federal agencies, states, and philanthropies should invest in ongoing research aimed at developing implementation systems to support the transition to evidence-based curricula that are practical and accessible. These investments should: • ensure the representation of Black, Indigenous, Latine, Asian, and Pacific Islander children, multilingual learners, children with disabilities, and children living in poverty in study samples with explicit attention to their unique experiences; • support implementation research that describes and identifies effective practices used by individual educators and programs for delivering and adapting curricula in ways that are culturally and linguistically responsive and relevant for children and families in their programs; • support studies that compare different domain-specific combinations and outcomes beyond those traditionally used, in order to capture new Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND RESEARCH NEEDS 10-16 understanding of what the term “whole child” encompasses in a diverse society (i.e., to capture culturally and linguistically affirming and anti-bias practices); • expand measured child outcomes of interest to include multilingual development, sense of belonging, agency, group pride, curiosity, creativity, and problem solving, and expand teacher outcomes to include the reduction of implicit and explicit bias, effective teaching, and cultural and linguistic responsiveness; and • launch a federal technical assistance center that is grounded in implementation science, is dedicated to supporting the development of new curricula and the adoption and implementation of evidence-based curricula, and includes supports for assessing fidelity. RESEARCH AGENDA A crucial component of reimagining preschool curricula is ensuring there is solid evidence-base supporting the new vision. The evidence on curriculum effectiveness must go beyond recognizing the “average effects” of the curriculum; it must also begin to identify the particular situations, conditions, and groups where a curriculum’s impact may vary. However, understanding variations in curriculum effectiveness requires new infrastructure supports, methods, and perspectives in how early childhood education researchers gather evidence. This section highlights the need for a comprehensive research agenda to gather evidence on this new vision for preschool curriculum. This includes (1) creating resources to better understand and document study conditions of curriculum effectiveness; (2) standardizing approaches for examining, reporting, and interpreting potential sources of curriculum effect heterogeneity; and (3) organizing large-scale studies that coordinate multiple teams of researchers to address questions of critical scientific and policy relevance. Throughout this report, the committee has also identified topics or themes for additional research areas. Box 10-2 outlines these potential areas of inquiry that future researchers in early childhood education may undertake as they continue to develop, adapt, and evaluate curriculum approaches aligned with the new vision. BOX 10-2 Themes for Additional Research • Equity: More research is needed to ensure that research and development studies include adequately large samples of Black, Indigenous, and Latine children; multilingual learners; children with disabilities; and children living in poverty and incorporate knowledge from various cultures to ensure that effects can be determined for these groups. • Multilingual learners: More research is needed to develop and evaluate non–English language and bilingual versions in multiples languages of curricula and resources for multilingual learners. This research also needs to be conducted in the context of different classroom language models. • Locally specific vs. widely disseminated curricula: More research is needed to address the tension between creating locally specific, culturally relevant curriculum Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND RESEARCH NEEDS 10-17 that is adaptable but also can be widely disseminated. This includes research examining the specific features of widely used curricula and the adaptations needed for communities with diverse learners. • Curriculum standards: More research is needed to help curriculum developers coherently incorporate preschool early learning standards to facilitate teacher implementation and positive student outcomes. • Systemic exclusion and bias: More research is needed on the ways in which systemic exclusion and bias interferes with children’s access to effective curricula. • Supports for successful curriculum implementation: More research is needed on supports for successful implementation of preschool curricula, including integrated professional development and child assessment for data-driven instruction. Research incorporating families’ and teachers’ experiences with curriculum implementation is particularly needed. o Interventions for reducing biases: More research is needed on interventions for reducing biases among preschool-age children and their educators when evidence of racial, linguistic, or other types of prejudice exist. This research is particularly critical given the pervasiveness and enduring damage that racial discrimination causes. o Fidelity assessment: There is a need for both research-validated fidelity assessment tools that are curriculum specific and tools that can be used across different curricula to support successful curriculum implementation. • Collaboration among investigators: More research is needed that prioritizes collaborations among investigators who study curriculum development and implementation and those addressing questions aimed at ensuring high-quality, equitable early education experiences for all children. Priority questions for such collaborative teams include: o Does the effectiveness with which specific curricula are delivered by teachers and received by children vary with specific features of the broader early care and education context, such as the baseline emotional climate and educators’ behavior management strategies? o What is the threshold of quality below which effective curriculum delivery is seriously compromised? o What are the specific types and levels of educator professional development/education/skill needed for the successful implementation of particular curricula? • Family involvement in assessment: More research is needed to understand how family members can be involved in assessment to provide insights into children’s strengths and areas of development, as well as provide historical, contextual, cultural and linguistic information. This research can help identify and reduce measurement biases that may occur because of cultural or linguistic experiences. • Dialogue among teachers, students, and peers: More research is needed to develop valid and reliable measures for constructs of interest for multilingual learners, children with disabilities, children from historically marginalized populations, and those living in poverty—at all levels, including child, classroom, and program. • Expansion of outcome measurements: More research is needed to develop valid and reliable outcome measures of constructs, such as engagement, agency, curiosity, creativity, positive identity, and enjoyment of school. These measures need to be developed with the goal of reducing overall burden of assessment for teachers, researchers, and children. Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND RESEARCH NEEDS 10-18 In this section, the committee proposes three recommendations for a future research agenda, with the overarching objective of reshaping the paradigm governing preschool curriculum. Each recommendation precedes a brief discussion on its content. RESEARCH AGENDA RECOMMENDATION 1: Develop resources to understand and document conditions in curriculum effectiveness studies. Developing resources dedicated to describing and understanding the multifaceted conditions under which preschool curricula are most effective entails creating a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the factors that influence curriculum effectiveness. To that end, interpreting results from curriculum evaluation studies necessitates a comprehensive understanding of the curriculum’s structure, implementation method, the benchmark it was compared with, the metrics used for assessing effects, and the contextual elements that might influence the curriculum’s impact. This understanding is crucial for the specific population the study aims to represent and the demographic the results intend to resonate with. Difficulties arise when the researcher is unaware of the context under which the curriculum’s effects were produced or when these conditions are inadequately conveyed to the decision makers reviewing the findings. Three specific research supports, outlined below, are needed for describing and understanding contexts, conditions, and populations under which curriculum studies are conducted. Adopt a Standardized Reporting Framework An important first step towards understanding, documenting, and communicating the conditions producing these results is adopting a standardized framework. This framework needs to account for and report the curriculum condition and its components, the comparison against which it is being evaluated, and the relevant population and settings. A unified framework for understanding curriculum effectiveness is essential for two primary reasons. First, when assessing “effective curriculum” evidence, educators and program administrators might be drawn toward results produced from a context similar to that of their students and community. They expect these findings to better apply to their demographic. Second, when combining multiple studies, as in a meta-analysis, researchers often investigate whether study features correlate with curriculum effect magnitude. However, inadequate reporting in individual studies often hinders such analyses. Hence, a standardized framework is indispensable for comparing and deciphering results from various studies and for harnessing the power of meta-analyses. Promote Early Childhood Education Data Infrastructure Researchers may face challenges in data collection or may employ metrics that challenge comparison with other studies. Therefore, early childhood data systems that chronicle children’s development and influencing factors are vital. A 2018 survey revealed that only 20 states could link certain early childhood education program quality metrics or licensing data to child-level K– 12 data (King et al., 2018). Integrated data systems grant a more comprehensive view of children’s learning contexts and offer opportunities to monitor their development as they progress from preschool through the K–12 years, which enables investigation of long-term effects of preschool curricula. Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND RESEARCH NEEDS 10-19 Collaborate with Study Participants to Describe Study Conditions and Interpret Results Study participants often possess insights not entirely captured by standard data collection methods. Hence, collaboration among researchers and participants is paramount. For instance, an effect attributed by researchers to a curriculum’s vocabulary lessons might stem from teacher- initiated parental involvement in home reading sessions. As such, it is critical that researchers and community members engage as collaborators or research partners on studies, co-constructing the meaning and nature of the intervention and control conditions and the outcomes of interest for the community and its families, as well as identifying key contextual characteristics that may be important for mitigating the effects of the curriculum. Participants may have insights about the ways in which a curriculum—and the control condition it is being compared with—may or may not be relevant for the community. They may also have information about how educators and children engage with and interact with materials. Community participatory approaches and qualitative methods such as ethnographic observations, interviews, and focus groups may be useful for ensuring that the characteristics defined are of interest to both the researcher and stakeholders involved in the program. RESEARCH AGENDA RECOMMENDATION 2: Standardize approaches for examining, reporting, and interpreting potential sources of curriculum effect heterogeneity. The second recommendation underscores the importance of standardizing research methodologies and approaches. By establishing uniformity in the evaluation of curriculum effects across diverse contexts and student populations, researchers can gain valuable insights into the extent of variability in curriculum effectiveness. Standardization not only enhances the reliability of research outcomes but also facilitates meaningful cross- and within-study comparisons, ultimately advancing the field’s collective understanding. In addition to providing more accurate descriptions of intervention conditions, populations, settings, and outcomes that are represented by specific study samples, early childhood education researchers need to employ consistent methods when analyzing and reporting sources of curriculum effect variation within individual studies. Commonly, the exploration of effect variation is done by observing moderator effects—indicating whether results vary statistically based on different subgroup characteristics. These analyses often involve separate examinations of subgroups, comparing their effects or undertaking analyses on the complete sample with interaction components allowing differences among groups. One challenge for interpreting results from these analyses is that it requires adequate statistical power for detecting differences in effects across subgroups. Moreover, a review of evaluation studies funded by the Institute for Education Sciences found that many studies were underpowered for detecting moderator effects within studies, despite requirements in the Request for Applications that ask for researchers to specify hypotheses for exploring variations in effects. It is important to note that funding limitations may affect researchers’ ability to have sufficient statistical power to detect moderator effects within studies, as large sample sizes needed for such disaggregation are often cost prohibitive for many research studies. The committee’s findings suggest that future curriculum evaluation studies need to be designed with adequate power to not detect only average effects, but also variation in effects across theoretically important subgroups and contexts. In the committee’s review of the pre-K curriculum literature for identifying moderator effects, the variation in how authors reported moderator effects was striking. In many papers, it Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND RESEARCH NEEDS 10-20 was unclear how moderated effects were estimated, for which subgroups and populations the moderated effects were estimated, and the interpretation of results. Moderation effects were often presented as figures without accompanying tables for how differential effects were produced. Often, it was unclear how many and which moderation analyses were originally conducted. Given that the probability of detecting statistically significant moderator effects increases as the number of tests are increased, it is difficult to interpret the result of a significant moderator effect when the number of tests conducted are unknown. To facilitate the interpretation of results from moderation analyses, researchers need to adopt standardized approaches for planning and reporting their results. 30 RESEARCH AGENDA RECOMMENDATION 3: Adopt a collaborative science approach for addressing questions of critical scientific and policy-relevance. The committee’s third research agenda recommendation promotes a collaborative scientific approach, advocating for interdisciplinary cooperation among researchers to address critical questions pertaining to preschool curriculum. This collaborative endeavor aims to ensure that research aligns with both scientific rigor and policy imperatives. Knowledge about the contexts and conditions under which curricula are (or are not) effective can rarely be established with a single study. Repeated trials with systematic variations across studies are needed to build an evidence base on what works for whom and under what contexts. This implies that instead of generating evidence that is intended to be summarized as a single average effect, the goal is to generate evidence for multiple curriculum effects that are expected to vary according to systematic differences in population and contextual characteristics. Generating such evidence requires multiple teams of researchers working together in coordinated ways to produce multiple study effects. For such endeavors to be successful requires (1) collaborative approaches for organizing and managing teams; (2) infrastructure supports to organize data collection efforts, resources, and tools for conducting research initiatives; and (3) statistical methods for planning and analyzing study results. Collaborative Science In recent years, team science has emerged as a strategy for researchers in multiple fields to collaborate to address complex challenges that could not be accomplished individually (e.g., Human Penguin project, Many Labs 2 project, Many Numbers project). The goal is to bring together collaborators with combined knowledge and expertise to address research questions of critical importance. This may include collaborators from different geographic spaces; they may also have expertise in different disciplines, fields, and professions, or represent different organizations, agencies, and perspectives. The structure of the collaborations can take many forms, involving pairs or small groups of collaborators working together on a multisite study or large networks of researchers working on the same topic. Although coordinated teams are essential for addressing questions about variation in curriculum effects, these efforts may also increase the number of challenges that research teams 30 In recent years, reporting guidelines, such as the SPIRIT (Standard Protocol Items: Recommendations for Interventional Trials) and CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) checklists, have been introduced to enhance transparency and reproducibility of findings from randomized controlled trials. These checklists provide resources for researchers to fully report their research activities, from the research questions and hypotheses for designing the study, to the methods used for estimating effects, to how results are reported. Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND RESEARCH NEEDS 10-21 must navigate, including open and efficient group communication and management, differences related to epistemological and methodological differences among team members, and challenges related to team members receiving appropriate recognition and compensation for their contributions. The Science of Team Science (SciTS) 31 is a new field of study focused on understanding and developing processes and tools that can promote positive outcomes for tools and mitigate the challenges that often arise. The Team Science Toolkit addresses multilevel influences for team success, including intra- and interpersonal relationships, processes for creating shared research protocols, data repositories, and analysis protocols, as well as infrastructures for supporting collaborative efforts, especially across multiple institutions. Infrastructure Supports Promoting effective team science approaches in preschool curriculum research requires investments that support the development, organization, and maintenance of such initiatives. Researchers and evaluators of preschool curriculum need training and support in evidence-based practices for promoting effective team science. As research teams become more diverse, researchers must have the training, support, and time to communicate effectively with team members, to build trust among collaborators, and to ensure that everyone on the team is recognized for their work. Researchers also need training on new tools for managing large-scale data collection, and for processing and sharing data securely with collaborators. Given the logistical complexities for collecting data in preschool settings, repositories in which researchers can share resources, tools, and measures would reduce duplication of efforts and improve the transparency of results. For example, the Annenberg Institute’s EdInstruments 32 is a repository for common measures used in education settings, and the Center for Open Science 33 includes repositories for researchers to upload and share preregistration plans, study protocols, and data. Statistical Methods for Summarizing Effect Results from collaborative efforts to evaluate curriculum effects may be synthesized through meta-analysis. Meta-analysis is a statistical technique for summarizing research results from multiple studies examining curriculum effectiveness. By combining findings from diverse studies, meta-analysis can provide a more encompassing and precise measure of the curriculum’s impact (compared with looking at results from a single study). This synthesis process helps in spotting consistent trends, ensuring that educators and policy makers can draw more informed and generalizable conclusions. However, while results from meta-analysis are often informative, they must be interpreted with caution because findings typically hinge on correlational data. For example, a correlation between curriculum dosage and specific student outcomes does not necessarily denote a causal relationship. Strong correlations, even if recurrent across multiple studies, can still be affected by external factors that were not addressed in the primary research. Moreover, the potential for publication bias, where studies with significant positive outcomes are favored over those with nonsignificant or negative outcomes, might skew the perceived effectiveness of a curriculum. The diversity in study quality and the variability in implementation and context 31 See https://www.inscits.org/scits-a-team-science-resources 32 See https://edinstruments.org/about 33 See https://www.cos.io Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND RESEARCH NEEDS 10-22 among studies also need to be factored in, as insights from meta-analysis are tied directly to the quality of the individual studies included. When researchers foresee the need for a meta-analysis, they can strategically design a series of studies to optimize the resultant combined findings. By orchestrating individual studies with a subsequent meta-analysis in view, they can ensure uniformity in study design, assessment tools, and reporting criteria. Such planning allows for systematic exploration of potential moderating effects. For instance, researchers might systematically introduce variations in curriculum delivery methods or contexts across different studies. When these intentionally designed studies are later merged in a meta-analysis, researchers are better positioned to discern how specific factors (such as classroom environment or teacher training) might amplify or diminish the curriculum’s effectiveness. By uniting the efforts of scholars from various disciplines and perspectives, as well as practitioners, families, and children, the research community can develop a more holistic understanding of curriculum effectiveness and its implications for equitable education. Collectively, these recommendations for a future research agenda contribute to the establishment of a transformative vision for preschool curriculum that centers on equity. The overarching goal is to guarantee that children of all backgrounds enjoy equal access to high-quality early learning experiences, fostering equitable educational outcomes. CLOSING THOUGHTS Early childhood education is not merely a stepping stone to kindergarten and further schooling; it is the bedrock upon which a child’s intellectual, social, and emotional development is laid and holds transformative power. Nurturing young minds and fostering positive learning environments and experiences sets the stage for a lifetime of success. This calls for a continuous commitment to refining and improving early education practices, ensuring that every child, regardless of background or circumstance, has access to learning experiences that spark curiosity, ignite imagination, and cultivate a sense of belonging. Every child also needs access to rich content and playful educational experiences that build their foundational skills. Early education is not just about preparing for the future; it is about shaping the present, empowering young learners to become confident, resilient, and engaged individuals. Decades of research underscore the transformative power of high-quality early childhood education. While every child deserves a joyful, engaging, and enriching preschool experience, many children are denied equitable access to a system that recognizes and nurtures their unique strengths and the strengths of their families and communities. Equity in early childhood calls for a tailored curriculum that adapts to individual children’s strengths and needs, cultural backgrounds, and linguistic contexts. Achieving equitable outcomes requires moving beyond the traditional notion of equality and embracing a differentiated approach that celebrates the diversity of cultural and linguistic backgrounds, individual abilities and strengths, and community strengths that can empower every child to reach their full potential. To achieve equitable access to high-quality early childhood educational experiences for all children, the complexities of evaluating curriculum efficacy must be confronted, particularly in areas such as cultural and linguistic relevance. Meeting this challenge will require continued commitment to refining research methodologies and expanding the knowledge base, especially in critical areas such as anti-bias and anti-racist pedagogy. Only through this inquiry and adaptation Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND RESEARCH NEEDS 10-23 can the promise of equitable and transformative early childhood education for all children be fulfilled. REFERENCE King, C., Perkins, V., Nugent, C., & Jordan, E. (2018). 2018 state of state early childhood data systems. Early Childhood Data Collaborative. Child Trends. Prepublication Copy, Uncorrected Proofs

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A high-quality preschool education can foster critical development and learning that promotes joyful, affirming, and enriching learning opportunities that prepare children for success in school and life. While preschool programs generally provide emotionally supportive environments, their curricula often fall short in advancing learning in math, early literacy, and science, and lack the necessary support for multilingual learners emerging bilingualism. Additionally, access to high-quality, effective early learning experiences may be limited and inadequate based on factors such as a childs race, location, gender, language, identified disability, and socioeconomic status.

A New Vision for High-Quality Preschool Curriculum examines preschool curriculum quality for children from ages three to five, with special attention to the needs of Black and Latine children, multilingual learners, children with disabilities and children experiencing poverty in the United States. The report articulates a vision for high-quality preschool curricula for all children, grounded in an equity and justice-oriented principles from inception to implementation and evaluation.

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