The Science and Future of Early Childhood Education (ECE)

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1 The Science and Future of Early Childhood Education (ECE) Craig T. Ramey, Ph.D. & Sharon L. Ramey, Ph.D. Distinguished Scholars of Human Development and Professors of Psychology, Pediatrics & Psychiatry Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, Virginia Tech Call to Action! Building the Voices for Early Childhood Education Working Forum Tuesday, October 30, 2012

2 Major ECE Scientific Findings Beginning early is a proven strategy for prevention of school failure. Well-prepared and supported teachers are essential for benefits. High quality learning environments engage parents who benefit as well as children. High quality ECE levels the socioeconomic achievement gradient (all children can do well) High quality ECE produces both positive short-term and long-term benefits. High quality ECE is an outstanding economic investment.

3 The Current Crisis in Early Childhood Education Discontinuity between scientific understanding and public funding Childhood poverty is on the rise and officials are cutting the only proven antidote to its pernicious effects NYC has fought the cuts but the future is uncertain

4 The Abecedarian Project: Study Design (Prenatal to school age ECE) Treatment Group Prenatal & birth visits Good stable nutrition Family social services Free primary health care Child development assessed The Abecedarian Approach: Enriched Caregiving Individualized, Comprehensive Curriculum Language Priority Conversational Reading Control Group_ Prenatal and birth visits Good stable nutrition Family social services Free or low-cost health care Child development assessed

5 The Abecedarian Approach prevented annual decline in at-risk children's IQ scores (percent with normal range IQ scores of 85+) Martin, Ramey, & Ramey, American Journal of Public Health

6 Two-Phase Design of Abecedarian Project Timing of Intervention R Preschool Intervention (N=57) School-Age Intervention (N = 25) School-Age Control (N=24) (N=25) (N=22) Birth to 8 Birth to 5 R Preschool Control (N=54) R School-Age Intervention (N = 24) School-Age Control (N=23) (N=21) (N=22) Ages 5-8 None Birth 5 Year 8 Years 12 Year 1 5 Years 21 Years 30 Years R = RANDOMIZATION

7 Summary of Abecedarian K-2 Transition Program Emphasis on reading, math, and writing Master Home/School Resource Teachers (12 children and families per teacher) Development of an individualized and documented supplemental curriculum for each child for school and home use Action to help families, as needed Summer camps with academically relevant experiences Ramey, Sparling, & Ramey, 2012

8 Abecedarian Project: 8 Year Olds Percent At or Below the 25 th Percentile in Reading and Math Achievement

9 Key Findings from the Abecedarian Project (Abecedarian = one who learns basics, such as the alphabet) From 18 Months to 30 Years Old Intelligence (IQ scores) Reading and math skills Academic locus-of-control Social Competence Years in school Attend/graduate 4-yr college Full-time employment Entry into the middle class Grade Repetition Special Education Teen Pregnancies Smoking and drug use Depression Plus benefits to mothers of these children ( education, employment) Adapted from Ramey, Sparling, & Ramey 2012

10 Effective early education overcomes the expected limits due to mother s education level N=985 children at 8 sites (n=23) (n=162) (n=166) (n=104) (n=134) (n=63) (n=76) (n=48) Adapted from Ramey, Sparling, & Ramey 2012

11 Starting early produces big benefits + Cognitive Development + Adaptive and Prosocial Behavior + Vocabulary + Receptive Language + Reasoning + Stimulating Home Environment + Maternal-Child Interactive Behavior + Maternal Problem Solving Skills - Reduced Child Behavior Problems IHDP Adapted from Ramey, Sparling, & Ramey 2012

12 High quality Pre-K leads to higher achievement on 3 rd grade tests for 4 successive cohorts in LA Findings also replicated for Science and Social Studies

13 Ramey, Ramey, & Stokes Key Findings from Louisiana s Statewide Public Pre-K Program (K - grade 8) English Language skills Math skills Science knowledge Social Studies knowledge Percentage gifted from low-income families Grade Repetition Special Education THE LA4 AND COMPARISON CHILDREN WILL BE FOLLOWED THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL AND INTO ADULTHOOD TO MEASURE EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT OUTCOMES

14 The New Scientific Frontier Burying the obsolete Nature vs Nurture debate Understanding more clearly the brain development/experience connection (RBS) Linking human development science better to public policy (Implementation Science)

15 Challenges to NYC and the Nation We are morally, ethically, and practically bound to help the children who really need high-quality prenatal to 3 rd grade services. High quality programs provide an impressive return on the investment. Prenatal to 3 rd grade services are familyfriendly supports. NYC has long been a leader in ECE and an inspiration for the nation. Now is a time to lead the nation and improve the life course of children.

16 Action Steps Challenge ourselves to be insistent and tireless on behalf of children's full development. It is the smart and right thing to do. Challenge the early childhood professional community to advocate for sufficient resources to guarantee quality of all programs. Let s be in this fight together. Challenge the public to understand that young children have a right to thrive. Their thriving is good for our schools, democracy, businesses, the economy and national defense.

17 Key References Ramey, C.T., Sparling, J.J., & Ramey, S.L. (2012). Abecedarian: The ideas, the approach, and the findings. Los Altos, CA: Sociometrics Corporation. Ramey, C.T., Ramey, S.L., & Stokes, B.R. (2009). Research evidence about program dosage and student achievement: Effective public prekindergarten programs in Maryland and Louisiana. In R. Pianta & C. Howes (Ed.), The Promise of Pre-K (pp ). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing. Ramey, C.T., Ramey, S.L., & Lanzi, R.G. (2006). Children s health and education. In I. Sigel & A. Renninger (Eds.).The handbook of child psychology. Vol. 4 (pp ). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons.

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