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Supporting Data-driven Improvements in Early Education

Date Submitted: 09/08/2021

Contact Information:

Sherri L. Castle

Research Faculty and Assistant Director of Research

(918) 660-3187

University of Oklahoma, Early Childhood Education Institute 

4502 E 41st St., Tulsa, OK 74135

Rating Category: Additional Research Needed

Focus Area: Social Emotional Learning

Focus Population: Children, Teachers, Caregivers

Goals and Outcomes:

This proposal provides a framework to support continuous improvement for early education programs that utilizes classroom and child data to identify existing strengths and appropriate areas for coaching and development. The ultimate outcome of this work is to provide every young child in Oklahoma with a high quality early education experience, regardless of income, race, home language, or location. Data collection and feedback will be designed to cultivate classroom practices that support children’s overall well-being in social-emotional, physical, and cognitive domains.

Brief Summary of target population and issues/challenges:

Despite strong evidence for the necessity of support during the early years, national studies indicate that early education settings experienced by young children prior to school entry are typically mediocre in quality. Prior data collected in the state of Oklahoma reveal similar dismal patterns. This proposal aims to cultivate improved quality in early education by providing data driven coaching to teachers and center/school leaders based on 

  1. structured observation of classrooms and 

  2. assessment of the development of young children while enrolled in the program. 

We propose a rotation in which all DHS-licensed child care programs are engaged in data collection and coaching at least every 3 years. Data will be used to provide feedback at the classroom and program level and also aggregated by program type, region, and other features of interest to determine areas of widespread opportunity to improve EC quality across the state via professional development and/or policy implementation. The Early Childhood Education Institute (ECEI) at OU-Tulsa has a long history of providing data-based feedback to high quality EC programs in their efforts to improve practice and ensure positive outcomes for all children. Researchers at the ECEI bring expertise in numerous observation tools and child assessments that will allow many options for developing a strategy in partnership with OKDHS or other stakeholders to focus on the most crucial aspects of early care and education, including options to focus on particular developmental domains or on needs specific to infants and toddlers; dual language learners; or Black, Indigenous, and children of color.

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