Collaboration between government agencies and research institutes.

International review by OECD

This review was offered by Early Childhood and Schools Division, Directorate for Education and Skills, OECD in autumn 2015 in response to Cedep’s request.

 

Countries:

1■ United States
2■ Flemish Community of Belgium
3■ British Columbia (Canada)
4■ England (United Kingdom)
5■ Norway
6■ Germany
7■ Sweden
8■ Korea
9■ Finland
10■Netherlands
11■Denmark
12■Ireland
13■Australia

1■ United States

In the United States, the National Center for Education Statistics, under the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), assists state governments in developing and implementing state-wide, longitudinal data systems. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, IES awarded grants to 20 states to link data across time and databases, from early childhood into career, including matching teachers to students.
More information: https://nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/



Also in the United States, the National Institute of Early Education Research (NIEER) has been publishing The State of Pre-School annually since 2003. These yearbooks show the extent of state investment in preschool, enrolment rates, group sizes and child-staff ratios, the qualification of teachers, and data on other important quality indicators. In addition, NIEER works with state and national policy makers and other organisations to develop research and communication strategies to fill gaps in knowledge and to effectively apply scientific knowledge to early education policy.
More information: http://www.nieer.org/

 

2■Flemish Community of Belgium

In the Flemish Community of Belgium, a university was asked to develop a self-evaluation instrument for child care staff. A team based at the Research Centre for Experiential Education at Leuven University has developed a Self-evaluation Instrument for Care Settings (SICS), which serves as a tool for process-oriented staff self-assessment in care settings. It focuses on the child and his/her experience in the care environment and is designed to help create an awareness of the optimal conditions for child development. The procedure for self-evaluation contains three steps. First, the levels of child well-being and engagement are assessed. Second, observations are analysed. Third, actions to improve quality are identified and implemented. A manual is designed to help users to become familiar with SICs. For the education sector, a student monitoring system, Leerlingvolgsysteem voor Vlaanderen, is available for registered schools. It allows teachers to keep track of the development and progress of individual students through a sequence of tests. It also gives insight into a student’s well-being and his/her involvement in school activities. The process consists of several tests to measure a student’s achievements on language and numeracy in nursery.

 

Also in Flanders (Belgium), the Ministry of Education and Training and the Ministry of Economy, Science and Innovation launched Study and School Careers under the Policy Research Centre to construct knowledge about students’ experiences in school from pre-primary education into the labour market and to identify the impact and effectiveness of policy measures and educational innovations on these transitions. As a part of the study, they explored the non-cognitive characteristics of pupils in the third year of preschool, in the first year of primary education and in subsequent years.

3■ British Columbia (Canada)

In British Columbia (Canada), the province provides funding to a research organisation (Offord Centre for Child Studies at McMaster University) that collects population-based information. The organisation measures the state of children’s development at the onset of kindergarten using the Early Development Instrument (EDI), which is intended to measure children’s school readiness at a group level – it is not an individual assessment tool. The EDI assesses children’s development in five different areas: 1) physical health and well-being; 2) social competence; 3) emotional maturity; 4) language and cognitive development; and 5) communication skills. It reflects the strengths and needs of children’s communities related to how they prepare children for school.
More information: http://offordcentre.com/

 

Also in British Columbia (Canada), the provincial government has provided funding to a project set up by a university that focuses on Investigating Quality Early Learning Environments. This project broadened and deepened discussions related to quality in ECEC at the local, provincial, national and international levels. It promoted discussions on quality through various forums on ECEC as well as professional learning for early childhood educators.
More information: http://www.web.uvic.ca/~eyrd/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=52:investigating-quality&catid=45:minority-world&Itemid=83

4■England (United Kingdom)

England (United Kingdom) contracted the National Academy of Parenting Research on a five-year contract until March 2012 to conduct programme of parenting and family research, examining and evaluating innovative parenting interventions that work with vulnerable families. Part of this included a project on the Commissioning Toolkit, which describes many of the parenting programmes offered in England and highlights the programmes which are most effective.
More information: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/ioppn/depts/cap/research/NAPR/index.aspx

 

In England (United Kingdom), The Department for Education has also carried out a longitudinal study (Effective Provision of Pre-School Education, EPPE), analysing the impact of participation in different ECEC settings on young children’s intellectual and social/behavioural development between ages three and seven. A longitudinal extension to this study (Effective Provision of Pre-School, Primary and Secondary Education) also analyses the impact of preschool and primary school on children’s intellectual and social/behavioural development between the ages of three to fourteen. The EPPE project collected a wide range of information on over 3 000 children, their parents, their home environments and the preschool settings to investigate the effects of preschool education for three- and four-year olds. Settings were drawn from a range of providers, such as local authority day nursery, integrated centres, playgroups, private nurseries, maintained nursery schools and maintained nursery classes. As a result, good quality can be found across all types of early year settings. However, children tended to make better intellectual progress with higher overall quality in integrated settings and nursery schools.
More information: http://www.ioe.ac.uk/research/153.html

 

Also in England (United Kingdom), the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) carries out regular inspections to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the provision in line with the principles and requirements of a curriculum framework called Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), which covers early learning and development and care. The inspection report makes judgements on the overall effectiveness of the provider (how well the setting meets the needs of the children in the EYFS), the effectiveness of the leadership and management, the quality of provision in the EYFS and outcomes for children in the EYFS.
More information: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ofsted

5■ Norway

In Norway, the government finances, through the Research Council of Norway, research programmes, such as the Programme for Practice-based Educational Research (PRAKUT) (2010-14) and Educational Research towards 2020 (EDUCATION 2020) (2009-13). These programmes aimed at enhancing the knowledge base for policy making, public administration, professional education and professional practice. PRAKUT’s purpose was to enhance the quality of ECEC, basic education and teacher education. The aim of this programme was to link closely between research and the field of practice. The aim of EDUCATION 2020 was to optimise development and learning for children, young people and adults. As part of this programme, the government is also financing a large, interdisciplinary, five-year research project about quality in Norwegian ECEC. In 2014, EDUCATION 2020 and PRAKUT were merged into one large programme called FINNUT (“Find Out”), which provides the current framework for funding of educational research (Ministry of Education and Research, 2015). As part of EDUCATION 2020, Better Provisions for Norway’s Children in ECEC (BePro, 2012-2017) focuses on effects of quality in kindergartens on children’s development and well-being. It is inspired by the EPPE project in the United Kingdom and also draws on the Dutch NCKO/ One of the goals of BePro is developing a tool for national evaluation of process quality. BePro makes use of established instruments such as the Infant Toddler Environment Rating Scale (ITERS), Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale, revised edition (ECERS-R) and four curricular subscales extension to the ECERS (ECERS-E) and care giver interaction profiles, to assess process quality of ECEC. More information: http://www.hioa.no/Forskning-og-utvikling/Hva-forsker-HiOA-paa/FoU-ved-LUI/Better-Provision-for-Norway-s-children-in-ECEC/Better-Provision-for-Norway-s-Children.

6■ Germany

In Germany, the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, and, to a lesser degree, the German federal states fund the German Youth Institute (DJI), with additional contributions made by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (project funding), various foundations, the European Commission and other institutions for the promotion of research. The Institute represents Germany in the OECD ECEC Network as well as the ECEC staff survey and early learning assessment groups. It is one of Germany’s largest social science institutes focusing on research and development around the topics of children, youth and families, as well as the political and practical areas related to them. The Institute offers practice-oriented insights from empirical research, the latest in policy consulting as well as research support and stimulus for practitioners. At the same time, it serves as an intermediary between science, policy, and practitioners. The Institute’s overall work profile covers four areas: 1) Research on the living situations and development of children and youth, families, their circumstances and the ways they live together, and the related public services and policies of education and social welfare. 2) Development of solutions to problems related to the public services in the Institute’s fields of work. 3) Policy consulting for the federal government, the federal states, local authorities and the European Union, particularly in the fields of child, youth and family policy, and in the related areas of education, health and justice. 4) Services for third parties in the form of practical and specialist consulting as well as accompanying and implementation research in the aforementioned fields and information provision for the (academic) professional public, practitioners and the media.
More information: http://www.dji.de/index.php?id=1&L=1

 

In Germany, the NUBBEK Consortium, an affiliation of several institutes and individual researchers, receives funding from the federal government, four federal states and two foundations. NUBBEK has taken on the following tasks within the framework of a study: to make reliable, basic, empirical and practical knowledge available; to scientifically examine the existing and emerging conditions and problems; and to use this empirical knowledge to expand the basis for the design of good early childhood education, care and upbringing for children and to increase support for families with child-raising responsibilities. The research takes the form of a national study and is carried out in different locations in eight German states. The main data collection took place in the first half of 2010. Over 2 000 children between the ages of two and four and their families (one-third of whom have immigrant backgrounds) were included in the study.

7■ Sweden

In Sweden, a national evaluation of preschool evaluations and use of the preschool curriculum, carried out by the National Agency for Education (a national authority which follows the policies and guidelines of the Swedish Riksdag and the Government) in 2003, provides policy makers at central and local levels with many valuable insights into how the national preschool curriculum is understood and implemented in practice. The evaluation also reported significant disparities in preschool quality (e.g., class size) across municipalities. The evaluation shows that the lack of support in terms of financial resources and management appears to affect preschools in low resource catchment areas. A second national evaluation was made in 2008 and shows that, ten years after it was introduced, the curriculum has gained increasingly larger significance. The results show that extensive evaluations are carried out both at the municipal level and at the preschool level. A broad spectrum of different evaluation models is used, including self-evaluation, colleague evaluation, parental surveys and evaluations involving children.

8■ Korea

Korea established a national research institute, the Korea Institute of Child Care and Education (KICCE) in December 2005 to take a systematic approach to promoting research on ECEC policy and supporting ECEC services more efficiently. Before its establishment, policy research on ECEC had been conducted separately by the Korea Educational Development Institute, Korea Women’s Development Institute and the Korea Institute of Health and Social Affairs. This work has been merged into KICCE. KICCE conducts a range of policy research on ECEC, serves as a databank and plays a role in bringing stakeholders from the education and the care sectors together to provide opportunities for dialogue. The Institute has launched the Panel Study of Korean Children (PSKC), a 13-year longitudinal study since 2006. It sampled 2 078 babies born between April and July 2008. PSKC covers prenatal through the ages of 7, 9 and 12. PSKC aims to provide comprehensive, cross-sectional data to contribute to identifying causal relationships between children’s developmental outcomes and child rearing support. The focus of the analysis includes: 1) Korean children’s developmental processes; 2) changes in parental child rearing values and practices over time; 3) effects of ECEC services; 4) impacts of ECEC policies; and 5) programme evaluations with experiments or quasi-experiments.

 

In Korea, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has commissioned the Korea Institute of Child Care and Education to publish The Annual Report on Early Childhood Education since 2009. The report is the “Korean Early Childhood Education at a Glance” and provides information on the current status of early childhood education across cities and provinces. It also includes information on quality indicators, such as, staff-child ratio, group size, the proportion of full-day operating kindergartens, the proportion of teaching staff holding a bachelor’s degree, and the number of supervisors specialised in early childhood education in the Provincial Offices of Education, as well as outcome indicators, such as, participation rates in different kinds of kindergartens. The report gives information about trends on certain indicators as well as comparative information on quality. It is distributed to the Provincial Offices of Education.

 

Also in Korea, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology commissions city and provincial Offices of Education, as well as seven Early Childhood Education and Development Institutes (ECEDI) across the country, to carry out practice-oriented research projects. The Ministry finances these projects with its budget for local special subsidies. City/provincial Offices of Education and ECEDIs develop and implement various programmes, such as extracurricular activity programmes for full-day kindergartens and teacher training programmes, and disseminate audio-visual aids for promoting kindergarten curriculums to help practitioners implement curricula. The Ministry of Health and Welfare commissions the Korea Childcare Promotion Institute, one of its affiliated organisations, to conduct research on child care centre accreditation and child care teacher qualification management to inform policy and practice.

9■ Finland

In Finland, the National Institute for Health and Welfare carried out an online survey for parents’ views on the quality of ECEC services. The results revealed that most parents are satisfied with ECEC services and trust the professional competences of staff but also feel the need for a more sufficient workforce supply.

10■ Netherlands

Pre-COOL in the Netherlands is a large-scale national cohort study of about 5 000 children ages two to five assessing the short- and long-term effects of participation in different provisions of ECEC. The study is followed up by COOL 5-18. Pre-COOL has been set up by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science in the Netherlands and is being conducted on request by the Dutch Organization of Academic Research.

 

Also in the Netherlands, the Dutch Consortium for Child Care (NCKO) conducts, at the request of the government, large-scale studies on the process and structural quality of day care centres and playgroups. To assess process quality, elements and scales from the ITERS-R and the ECERS-R have been used and adapted to the Dutch context. This is complemented by observational rating scales developed by the NCKO to assess the quality of interactions. Data on structural quality is collected through a survey and complemented with observations. This study is repeated every few years, and the aggregated results are published.

11■Denmark

In Denmark, the research project Knowledge-based Efforts for Socially Disadvantaged Children in Day-care (VIDA) explored the overall research question: How can Danish general day care improve socially disadvantaged children’s opportunities in life? This comprehensive research project examines and documents which of two types of pedagogical interventions in general day care is most effective at improving the learning and well-being of socially disadvantaged children. The overall goal of this effort is to stimulate children’s personal, linguistic and social competences as well as their logical understanding. The research project comprises some 6 000 children in 120 day care centres across four municipalities in Denmark. The intervention was implemented in an inclusive environment; i.e., the ordinary day care environment that is shared with other children. Two types of efforts were tested in this project. To be able to compare the two, the participating day care centres were divided into three groups. In one group, focus was on the children’s well-being and learning (i.e., the VIDA basis model programme). In another group, focus was on parental involvement as well as the children’s well-being and learning (i.e., the VIDA basis + parent model programme). A third group of day care centres was left to continue with their ordinary practice (i.e., the control group). The project has been commissioned and financed by the Danish Ministry of Social Affairs.

12■Ireland

In Ireland, a Scientific and Policy Advisory Committee has been established, as well as a Project Team and Steering Group comprised of key policy makers. They collaborate on the development of a research agenda for Ireland, and also have operational and strategic oversight of the research agenda

13■Australia

Australia set up a national research institute to advance the work on ECEC research. In Australia, the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA), a national body, undertakes research and evaluation activities on ECEC. Its work drives continuous quality improvement and helps build an Australian evidence base on early childhood development, to be used for policy and strategy development. In Australia, in 2003, federal and state governments, academics and practitioners reached a strong consensus that the EDI should be adapted for Australia. The Centre for Community Child Health (CCCH) received federal funding to pilot the instrument in more than 60 communities, and the AEDI was created. Since 2009, Australia has used this instrument to collect national data on the developmental health of all children starting school. After a successful first round, the Australian government committed to an ongoing national assessment of the health and well-being of children. In 2014, the AEDI program was renamed the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC), to distinguish the programme from the data collection instrument, while noting that it is the Australian version.