The years between birth and age five are critical for children’s development; thus, it’s imperative that every child have access to high-quality early education programs (EEPs). Recognizing that such programs require effective leadership—and that leaders tend to get fewer supports than educators—Massachusetts’ Early Childhood Support Organization (ECSO) initiative. The public-private partnership (which includes New Profit and the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC)) seeks to improve the quality of EEPs by providing professional supports, resources, and financial incentives to programs with the goal of empowering leadership to support early educators in their provision of high-quality instruction that promotes positive outcomes for young children.
Abt Associates is evaluating the implementation and impact of this statewide initiative, and recently released a report showcasing findings from the second year of the implementation study. Our key findings included:
- The approach suggested by the initiative’s theory of change can be implemented. Participating organizations provided between five and 23 hours of support each month to each participating EEP to improve instructional leadership through data collection and reflection, staff support and development, and more.
- Participating leaders reported beneficial outcomes, with those who had been in the programs longest reporting the largest gains. Benefits ranged from greater confidence in their roles to increased engagement in—and dissemination of—educational best practices, including training educators.
- Educators also benefitted; more than 60 percent received training in strategies such as collaborative data collection, use of classroom observation and child assessment data. Others received more planning time and, overall, job satisfaction—an important component of successful education programs—was higher.
- Observed instructional quality in toddler and pre-k classrooms improved significantly. Once again, those organizations that were in the ECSO longest showed the greatest gains.