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June 19, 2009 — A national center at the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education has launched a book series focusing on the latest early childhood education research.
The series is co-edited by Robert Pianta, dean of the Curry School and director of the National Center for Research on Early Childhood Education, which is housed at the Curry School's Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning; and by Carollee Howes, director of the Center for Improving Child Care Quality and professor of education at University of California-Los Angeles.
The planned five-volume series, published by Brookes Publishing, is designed to stimulate critical thinking around key topics in early education and analyze policy, practice and future research aims.
The inaugural volume, "The Promise of Pre-K," is a compilation of chapters collected from the center's first annual leadership symposium, held in February 2007. Pianta said his hope for the book is that it will play a major role in shaping the policy debate around early childhood education.
Currently, promoting the expansion and effectiveness of state-funded pre-kindergarten programs is a top priority of both the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education of the Obama administration. It was also central to Timothy M. Kaine's platform as he ran for Virginia governor.
"NCRECE is taking a lead in the pre-K debate by its focused attention on improving quality and impact in early childhood programs," Pianta said. "This book describes what we know about quality and impact and lays the groundwork for the program of research we are conducting to improve outcomes for children."
The book presents research intended to meet the goals of expanding access to early childhood programs and improving the quality of those that already exist. "The Promise of Pre-K" looks at states that have improved both the access to, and quality of, state-funded, pre-kindergarten programs and lessons learned to foster better policymaking for contemporary programs and challenges.
Books from the second and third annual symposiums are also in the pipeline. One will focus on innovative, market-driven systems for improving program quality, and the other on meeting the need of English language learners in early childhood education.
The National Center for Research on Early Childhood Education is in its third year. It was established through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences as one of a limited number of major research centers in targeted areas of education.