The following research reports and policy briefs support our efforts to identify policy solutions that can increase access to effective educational and professional development opportunities.

The State of Early Childhood Higher Education in California

Teaching the Teachers of Our Youngest Children: The State of Early Childhood Higher Education in California
by Lea J.E. Austin, Marcy Whitebook, Fran Kipnis, Laura Sakai, Ferheen Abbasi, and Felippa Amanta

This report, released in 2015, looks at how higher education programs have evolved over the last decade, examines how institutions of higher education are adapting to emerging research and changes in the California policy environment, and offers recommendations to address the field’s current limitations.

Read the highlights of our findings and the full report.

Interested in more details? The full technical report is also available here.





Posted 2015.

Strengthening the math-related teaching practices of the early care and education workforce: Insights from experts

Strengthening the math-related teaching practices of the early care and education workforce: Insights from experts
By Sharon Ryan, Marcy Whitebook, and Deborah Cassidy

Published in March 2014 with support from the Heising-Simons Foundation, this policy report explores the perspectives of nationally recognized experts in the field of mathematics and early care and education about three main issues:
1. The knowledge and competencies that practitioners need in order to teach mathematics to young children;
2. Effective strategies for educating practitioners to support young children’s mathematical development; and
3. The challenges and successes that these experts have experienced in math-related ECE workforce development efforts

Posted 2015.

Building a Skilled Teacher Workforce

Building a skilled teacher workforce: Shared and divergent challenges in early care and education and in grades K-12 prepared by Marcy Whitebook for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 2014.

Across the K-12 and early care and education (ECE) communities, similar conversations are underway about how to recruit teachers and strengthen their preparation, how to provide ongoing learning experiences for new and veteran teachers, and how to organize school environments to ensure that all teachers can best address the needs of an increasingly diverse child population. But these conversations are also widely divergent, given that the histories of the two sectors have led to distinct personnel and service delivery systems.

In order to develop an early learning strategy for the U.S. that is capable of improving educational outcomes for young children, it is critical to understand the personnel-related opportunities and challenges the ECE sector faces, as well as how these differ from those encountered in the K-12 sector. This paper discusses the public perception of early childhood teaching, the history and purpose of education for children of different ages, and describes key features of the personnel systems that have emerged from these varied roots, comparing them along several dimensions, and offers several suggestions for promoting a skilled and stable early care and education workforce for the 21st century.

The Foundation commissioned a series of papers to understand the impact of high-quality early childhood programs that are effective in producing lasting gains for young children. Read Building a Skilled Teacher Workforce and Lessons from Research and the Classroom.

Posted 2014.

From Aspiration to Attainment: Practices That Support Early Childhood Degree Attainment, Los Angeles Universal Preschool’s Child Development Workforce Initiative

by Marcy Whitebook, Diana Schaack, Fran Kipnis, Lea J.E. Austin, and Laura Sakai

This study sought to understand what distinguishes students who are successful at earning degrees or transferring to four-year institutions from those who are stalled in their progress or who dis-enroll from school. The study explored student success from two perspectives: those of college staff who support students toward degree attainment and transfer-ready status, and those of the students themselves, representing different categories of student progress.

Executive Summary

Full Report

Posted 2013.

Early Childhood Higher Education Inventory

The Early Childhood Higher Education Inventory, administered by the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California at Berkeley, assists policymakers and other stakeholders to develop a more coordinated and comprehensive professional preparation and development system for the early care and education workforce.  The Inventory is a mechanism to describe the landscape of a state’s early childhood degree program offerings, at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. The Inventory captures variations in program goals, content, child age-group focus, student field-based learning, and faculty characteristics and professional development needs. This information allows policy makers, institutions of higher education and other stakeholders to identify the gaps and opportunities in the available offerings, make informed policy decisions, and assess the capacity of the higher education system over time.

Reports: The State of Early Childhood Higher Education



Nebraska (Nebraska weblink)
Report | Highlights | Technical Report

Report | Highlights | Technical Report

New York
Report | Highlights | Technical Report


New Hampshire (pdf)

New Jersey (pdf)

Rhode Island (pdf) (Rhode Island weblink)

Briefs: Early Childhood Higher Education


Early Childhood Higher Education: Taking Stock Across the States

Challenges and Opportunities for Including Coursework on Infants and Toddlers in Higher Education Degree Programs (published on Early Educator Central)


CSCCE, in a webinar hosted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, on 3/4/14 presented, Early Childhood Higher Education Inventory: Taking Stock of the States. This presentation provides an overview of the Inventory and describes how two states are using the data to inform policy and practice.

Click here to access the presentation slides.

For information about the Inventory, email us at with the subject “Early Childhood Higher Education Inventory”.

Posted 2013.

Learning Together: A Study of Six B.A. Completion Cohort Programs in Early Care and Education (Year 4 Report)

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

The Year 4 interviews of the Learning Together study reveal that two to three years post degree, nearly 95 percent of graduates remain in the early care and education (ECE) field, and that graduates overwhelmingly report personal, professional and educational benefits as a result of their B.A. degree cohort program. Specifically, graduates report that structural aspects of their B.A. program, such as financial aid and flexible class schedules, were important to their educational success, that the cohort experience continues to provide them with professional support, and that as a result of their degree attainment they now earn more, have advanced in their careers, and continue to explore educational opportunities. Graduates also identified several important areas for programmatic improvement, such as expanding coursework to include ECE public policy and classes on working with adults.  They also discuss workplace characteristics that support or impede their abilities to engage in good practice and to continue to develop their skills.

Executive Summary (pdf)

Full Report (pdf)

Read more information about the Learning Together project, or read the Year 1 report, Year 2 report, or Year 3 report.

Posted 2012.

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 2012.

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 2011.