We conduct cutting-edge research and propose policy solutions aimed at improving how our nation prepares, supports and rewards the early care and education workforce to ensure young children’s optimal development.

Below is a chronological list of our published reports. You can also view reports related to one of our four core priorities by clicking on the issues above.

By Default or By Design? Variations in Higher Education Programs for Early Care and Education Teachers and Their Implications for Research Methodology, Policy, and Practice

By Marcy Whitebook, Lea J.E. Austin, Sharon Ryan, Fran Kipnis, Mirella Almaraz, and Laura Sakai

Understanding how higher education contributes to teacher performance is a complex undertaking. It requires identifying which variations in program content and delivery are most relevant to student learning and teacher practice with young children. This necessitates appropriate research methodologies that can illuminate key program variations, which are re essential for generating solid evidence to inform policy and practice.

By Default or By Design? Variations in Higher Education Programs for Early Care and Education Teachers and Their Implications for Research Methodology, Policy, and Practice draws upon a case study of two early childhood B.A. completion cohort programs in order to illuminate the limitations of current ways of conceptualizing and studying early childhood teacher education. Focusing on four dimensions— program content, clinical experiences, faculty characteristics, and institutional context—we examine challenges encountered and lessons learned in seeking to understand differences in educational experiences among students attending these two programs. We then offer a series of recommendations for more nuanced ways of describing and evaluating the quality of higher education programs for early care and education practitioners.

Executive summary (pdf)

Full report (pdf)

Posted January 2012.


Staff Preparation, Reward, and Support: Are Quality Rating and Improvement Systems Including All of the Key Ingredients Necessary for Change?

By Lea J.E. Austin, Marcy Whitebook, Maia Connors, and Rory Darrah

As quality rating and improvement systems (QRISs) increasingly become the key strategy for improving the quality of early care and education, it is critical to understand and examine how such systems define quality, the benchmarks used to indicate quality, and the opportunities in place to support improvement. This report examines the extent to which QRISs support the professional development of practitioners and include in their rating rubrics key ingredients — staff qualifications, direct compensation, and the factors related to work settings –  that have been linked to quality.

Download the Report (pdf)

Download the Executive Summary (pdf)

Posted June 2011.


Degrees in Context: Asking the Right Questions about Preparing Skilled and Effective Teachers of Young Children

The Center for the Study of Child Care Employment and the National Institute for Early Education Research have jointly published a NIEER Policy Brief, Degrees in Context: Asking the Right Questions about Preparing Skilled and Effective Teachers of Young Children. In this Policy Brief, Marcy Whitebook and Sharon Ryan argue that too much attention has been given to debating the baseline qualifications required of preschool teachers – AA vs. BA. They contend that it is just as necessary to take into account the nature of the education teachers receive en route to a degree, supports for ongoing learning, and the effects of the workplace environment on teaching practice. 

Policy Brief (pdf)

Posted April 2011.


Learning Together: A Study of Six B.A. Completion Cohort Programs in Early Care and Education (Year 3 Report)

By Marcy Whitebook, Fran Kipnis, Laura Sakai, and Mirella Almaraz

The Year 3 interviews of the Learning Together study reveal that the vast majority of students successfully graduated from their B.A. cohort program. Year 3 interviews focused on two issues of concern about higher education programs – the practicum experiences for employed students and the adequacy of attention to working with children from linguistically diverse backgrounds. The graduates overwhelmingly reported that their B.A. classes provided them with skills and strategies needed to communicate with children who speak a language other than their own. While the majority of students reported that their practicum experiences helped them do a better job at their workplace, they also identified several areas for improvement. The Year 3 study also reports on the graduates’ perspectives about support at their jobs for ongoing learning and any changes in employment and/or compensation upon completing their degree.

Executive Summary (pdf)

Full Report (pdf)

Read more information about the Learning Together project, or read the Year 1 report, or Year 2 report.

Posted April 2011.


Workforce Information: A Critical Component of Coordinated State Early Care and Education Data Systems

By Fran Kipnis and Marcy Whitebook

In this report, we examine the early care and education workforce data landscape across the states, focusing on the three main workforce data systems operating across the states, ECE workforce registries, T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood®, and NACCRRAWare/T-TAM. This report also examines the challenges and efforts to align these systems.

Download the report (pdf)

Posted March 2011.


Learning Together: A Study of Six B.A. Completion Cohort Programs in Early Care and Education (Year 2 Report)

By Marcy Whitebook, Laura Sakai, Fran Kipnis, Dan Bellm, and Mirella Almaraz

During the Year 2 interviews of the Learning Together study, the students resoundingly reported that the cohort model enabled them to access and succeed in a B.A.-level education in a way that would not otherwise have been possible. The students reported progress in overcoming the challenges described in the Year 1 report, and decreasing their reliance on some of the program supports as they progressed through the program. The students also identified the importance of employer support in successfully pursuing their educational goals.

Download the Year 2 report (pdf)

Read more information about the Learning Together project, or read the Year 1 report or Year 3 report.

Posted July 2010.