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a-review-effects-early-childhood-education-coverA review of the effects of early childhood education (PDF, 1013kB)

The information on this page is also available as a one-page summary (PDF, 171kB).

Background

This literature review summarises evidence of the relationship between early childhood education and cognitive and noncognitive outcomes for children. It also summarises evidence from a number of international longitudinal studies and randomised control trials. Australian evidence, though limited, has also been summarised.

 

Main findings

High quality early childhood education can improve children’s cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes
High-quality early childhood education is robustly associated with positive outcomes at school entry. Children who participate in early childhood education have higher cognitive and noncognitive development than children who do not participate. The benefits of early childhood education are stronger at higher levels of duration (years) and intensity (hours) of attendance. However, most early childhood education interventions yield short-term outcomes, with effects ‘fading out’ between one to three years after the intervention. The Australian evidence base on early childhood education effects is relatively limited. The extent to which early childhood education affects Australian children's development is largely unknown.
Disadvantaged children stand to gain the most from high quality early childhood education
High-quality early childhood education is particularly beneficial for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, as early childhood education provides cognitive and non-cognitive stimulation not available in the home learning environment. Interventions are best provided in the earliest years of life, as these yield higher developmental, social, and economic returns than interventions provided at later stages. Early childhood education interventions help to reduce inequalities in educational outcomes for disadvantaged children at the time of school entry. Small-scale, intensive early childhood education interventions (such as the well-known High/Scope Perry Preschool and Abecedarian programs), that incorporate additional components such as parenting programs and home visits from teachers are found to be most effective. Compared to more universal programs, smaller-scale, intensive interventions produce longer-term outcomes.

The positive effects of early childhood education programs are contingent upon, and proportionate to, their quality
The provision of high-quality early childhood education is beneficial for learning and development. Early childhood education quality typically comprises structural quality (characteristics such as the teacher to child ratio) and process quality (nature of interactions between children; their environment; and teachers and peers). A policy lever that will increase the positive effects of early childhood education participation is an increase in educational quality.

Recent analysis of early childhood education quality in Australia undertaken by Melbourne University’s E4Kids study, shows that there remains substantial room for quality improvement in Australian jurisdictions, including NSW.

 

Published in Research report

Cluster management trial

Authors: Julie People, Natalie Johnston-Anderson

Evaluator company/business: Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation, NSW Department of Education

Year: 2017

URL or PDF: Download the evaluation of the Cluster Management trial (PDF, 1.79MB).

Sumary: The purpose of the evaluation was to ascertain how the trial had been implemented by the four cluster management providers with 40 preschools, and whether it resulted in improvements to preschool management and service quality. Data was gathered through: interviews with management committee members, preschool directors and staff and analysis of quarterly reports from cluster management providers; and a comparison of National Quality Standard (NQS) ratings for the preschools participating in the trial with a control group of preschools. Overall, cluster management was considered a positive initiative by those involved. Preschool governance, time management and professional development were generally reported to improve during the trial. 

Published in Evaluation repository
Monday, 28 November 2016

The transition to school

Transition to school

The importance of a positive transition to school is well recognised. This paper examines the existing literature on the transition from home and/or early childhood settings to primary school.

Download The transition to school (PDF, 2MB).

Published in Research report

Transition to school statement

Authors: Virginia Lum Mow, Craig Jones and Julie People
Evaluator company/business: Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation, NSW Department of Education
Year: 2015
URL or PDF: Download the Evaluation of the Transition to School Statement  (PDF, 3.92MB)
Summary: The evaluation aimed to assess the extent of uptake of the Statement and the transition outcomes for children in targeted and comparison sites. Surveys of early childhood and school educators, parents and carers;  case studies and a panel forum of experts were used to identify ways in which the Statement could be improved. The evaluation found that early childhood services, families and schools felt that children were well supported in their transition to school. Although these strong positive responses created ceiling effects, making it difficult to detect any aggregate impact on children’s transitions to school in the areas where the Statement was used more widely, the Statement is highly valued among the respondents who used or received it. The evaluation also identified a few key areas where the Statement could be simplified.

Published in Evaluation repository

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