Early Childhood Education
Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11 (ECLS-K:2011)
Westat is conducting the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11 (ECLS-K:2011) for the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), U.S. Department of Education. The ECLS-K:2011 is the third in a series of multisource, multimethod, longitudinal studies funded by NCES.
During the 2010-11 school year, approximately 20,700 kindergartners in 900 public and private schools across the nation will be selected to participate in the ECLS-K:2011. These children will be followed each year from kindergarten through fifth grade.
Information about the children, their parents, their teachers, and schools were collected in the fall and spring of kindergarten, first, and second grade, and then will be collected in the spring of third through fifth grades. During each data collection period, children are assessed and measured, and parents are interviewed. Each spring, data are collected from school administrators and teachers.
Westat also conducted the ECLS-K:2011's predecessor study, the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998-99 (ECLS-K), which followed 21,260 children from kindergarten through eighth grade.
Head Start Impact Study and the Third Grade Follow-Up to the Head Start Impact Study
Head Start has the ambitious mandate of improving educational and developmental outcomes for children from economically disadvantaged families. Westat and its partners conducted two impact studies: the first (congressionally mandated) on the impact of Head Start on children and families during the children's preschool, kindergarten, and first grade years; the second, a follow-up study that looked at the longer term effects of Head Start through the end of the third grade.
Looking across the 6-year study period, from the beginning of Head Start through third grade, the evidence is clear that access to Head Start improved children's preschool outcomes across developmental domains (cognitive, social-emotional, and health) but had few impacts on children in kindergarten through third grade. In addition to looking at Head Start's average impact across the diverse set of children and families who participated in the program, the study also examined how impacts varied among different types of participants. There is evidence that for some developmental outcomes, Head Start had a differential impact for certain subgroups of children.
For the study findings:
Westat is completing the fifth round of the Fragile Families study for the Center for Research on Child Wellbeing, Princeton University. Fragile Families follows a cohort of nearly 5,000 children born in the United States between 1998 and 2000 and their parents. The sample includes children born in 20 major U.S. cities. Approximately three-fourths of the sampled children were born to unmarried parents.
For the fifth round, fielded when the children were 9 years old, Westat conducted hour-long computer-assisted interviews with the biological mothers, biological fathers, and primary caregivers (person who lives with the child and knows the most about the child) of the sample children. Westat also conducted in-home visits that lasted approximately 2 hours.
During the home visits, trained Westat staff:
- Administered one-on-one assessments of the focal children's language ability and academic achievement,
- Conducted short computer-assisted interviews with children that asked about their behavior and home, family, and school experiences,
- Collected health measures (measuring the mothers' weight and children's height and weight and collecting saliva samples for genotyping from biological mothers and children),
- Audiotaped the primary caregivers speaking about the focal children, and
- Collected a self-administered questionnaire from the primary caregivers.
In two of the cities, Westat staff used a hand-held spirometer to measure children's lung function. Home office staff mailed self-administered questionnaires to the children's teachers.
Because as many as 4 years had passed since the participants had heard from the study, Westat conducted extensive tracing and locating activities:
- Developed a locating database to track mothers and fathers separately,
- Trained interviewers how to conduct Internet searches and do in-field locating, and
- Hired private detectives for especially difficult-to-locate cases.
Further information and links to reports:
http://www.fragilefamilies.princeton.edu/ (external link) [*]
Training and Technical Assistance to the Head Start
Westat provides training and technical assistance to the Head Start program to ensure that independent early childhood researchers understand and can work with Head Start data sets. We are also providing continued analytic support to meet the Government's future policy needs.