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Investing in Early Education: What Research Tells Us About Improving the Odds for Children’s Success Judith J. Carta, Ph.D. Senior Scientist, Professor.

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Presentation on theme: "Investing in Early Education: What Research Tells Us About Improving the Odds for Children’s Success Judith J. Carta, Ph.D. Senior Scientist, Professor."— Presentation transcript:

1 Investing in Early Education: What Research Tells Us About Improving the Odds for Children’s Success Judith J. Carta, Ph.D. Senior Scientist, Professor Director of Early Childhood Research Juniper Gardens Children’s Project University of Kansas

2 Two Key Areas of Research  Early Brain Development  Importance of Early Trajectories of Learning

3 90% of Brain Development Occurs Before a Child is 3 Years Old

4 3 Year Old Brain With and Without Quality Early Experience

5 Research Shows the Pathway to Success or Failure  We can predict how well a student will read in high school based on how well that student’s knowledge of the alphabet in kindergarten.  We can predict whether a student in high school will drop-out based on what he or she knows and could do in preschool.  We know that by age 3, a knowledge gap exists between children growing up in poverty and those in middle-class environments.

6 Ground-Breaking Work on Importance of Early Environments (Hart & Risley )  Done in Kansas City, KS and Johnson County, KS  Shows differences in the rates of vocabulary development in children from three different economic groups

7 Children start out the same but differences begin to appear as early as 18 months.

8 Quality of early language experience predicted later school success.  Children from professional families heard 3 times as many words/hour less than children from families in poverty.  Differences in vocabulary at 36 months predicted reading achievement at 3 rd grade.

9 Hart & Risley, 1995

10 These trajectories are likely to continue into pre-kindergarten and beyond because…  Children are already at a disadvantage when they enter Pre-K.  Children in working poor and modest income families are less likely to experience high-quality preschool education.

11 Early Reading First-Wyandotte County  All children who were from low-income families.  Well-paid teachers received high levels of training and supervision in promoting language and literacy  Intensive program, strong curriculum was provided  Each year, on average, children have demonstrated much more growth than expected on vocabulary and literacy—key skills for later success

12 EARLY READING FIRST WYANDOTTE COUNTY Average Vocabulary Improvements in Each Year Normative Mean 1 SD Below *** *** p <.001 Carta, Abbott, Herring & Staker, 2008

13 Wyandotte County EARLY READING FIRST Average Yearly Letter Naming Improvements Kindergarten Benchmark *** *** p<.001 Carta, Abbott, Herring & Staker, 2008

14 We know what works…we just need to do what works. Programs like this are demonstrating that we can give all children the start they need to be successful students and ultimately productive citizens and members of the workforce.

15 Where are these children in 2008? Data from

16 Where are they now?  How did they do in school?  Did they graduate from high school?  Did they go to college?  Did they have the skills needed to get jobs in our community?

17 Conclusions  Every day, the research evidence is mounting regarding what it takes to give children the start they need to set them on a successful trajectory.  In our own KS communities, and in selected areas in the country, programs are demonstrating the benefits of quality early education.  Yet, every year, the benefits of this knowledge are failing to reach too many children in our state.

18 We have the knowledge about what children need in the early years… Are we ready to make the investment in children and make a real difference in the lives of the next generation of Kansans?

19 For more information:  Contact: Judith Carta, Ph.D Juniper Gardens Children’s Project University of Kansas 650 Minnesota Ave. Kansas City, KS Website:


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