At the individual site level, Educare Schools collect data and ongoing child assessments in the areas of social-emotional development, language and literacy skills, and math to describe and document the progress of the children and families they serve in order to inform each site's program improvement efforts, individualize their practices to the needs of the children and families they serve, and to satisfy accountability requirements set by funding agencies. Within the Educare Learning Network, Educare Schools incorporate the latest findings from academic research and lessons learned from the day-to-day experiences with young children, families and staff to enhance their work. In response to new research or evidence, the Educare model may also evolve over time.
On a national level, since 2005, the FPG Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill has collaborated with the Educare Learning Network to design and implement a multi-site Implementation Study across the Network.
The purpose of the study is to document the features of Educare and how implementation of the model contributes to program quality and links to child and family outcomes. The Implementation Study also has ensured that all Educare Schools are using the same procedures and measures to describe staff and classroom quality and to document child and family progress. Findings from the Implementation Study are informing continuous program improvements and documenting and describing child and family gains, with some insight into program components related to gains. The results of the Implementation Study also allow the Network to better understand the progress children, families and staff are making in Educare programs, while illuminating the links between child and family outcomes and implementation of the model.
Local evaluators and program directors from each Educare School are partners in decision-making about the evaluation design. A Technical Work Group of experts provides advice and links with the latest science in a variety of fields impacting our early care and education work. Local evaluators collect data at their site, using well-known assessments, observations, and interview items, and Frank Porter Graham processes and summarizes data across sites and ensures that high standards for training and reliability of data collection are maintained.
Evaluation activities for the Network are currently funded by the Buffett Early Childhood Fund and local philanthropic leaders in Educare communities.
In partnership with the FPG Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, we are planning a randomized control study of our Educare Model throughout the Educare Learning Network. This gold-standard evaluation will provide new evidence on the potential impact of high-quality early childhood experiences for young children at risk for school failure.