• Examine preschool administration at local, county, and state levels to assess the relative quality of the administrative and support systems now in place.

  • Consider quality, infrastructure, and cost-effectiveness.

  • Review the evidence that should inform state standards and licensing, including limits on group size and square footage requirements.

  • Develop instruments and strategies to monitor the achievement of young children that meet state and national accountability requirements, respect young children’s unique learning and developmental needs, and do not interfere with teachers’ instructional decision making.

CONCLUSION

At a time when the importance of education to individual fulfillment and economic success has focused attention on the need to better prepare children for academic achievement, the research literature suggests ways to make gains toward that end. Parents are relying on child care and preschool programs in ever larger numbers. We know that the quality of the programs in which they leave their children matters. If there is a single critical component to quality, it rests in the relationship between the child and the teacher/caregiver, and in the ability of the adult to be responsive to the child. But responsiveness extends in many directions: to the child’s cognitive, social, emotional, and physical characteristics and development.

Much research still needs to be done. But from the committee’s perspective, the case for a substantial investment in a high-quality system of child care and preschool on the basis of what is already known is persuasive. Moreover, the considerable lead by other developed countries in the provision of quality preschool programs suggests that it can, indeed, be done on a large scale.



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