President Obama’s renewed call this year for universal pre-kindergarten programming joined many appeals from federal and state policymakers for increased investments in public pre-k and early learning programs—along with calls to evaluate these services. To meet the growing need for guidance from researchers with experience in early childhood education and program evaluation, UNC’s Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG) is launching the National Pre-K and Early Learning Evaluation Center. The new center comes at a time when many administrators across the country are designing and implementing new pre-k or early learning programs—or updating programs they already have in place. “Thirty states have raised pre-k funding on their own,” said the President during this year’s State of the Union Address. “They know we can’t wait.” FPG senior scientist Ellen Peisner-Feinberg directs the new National Pre-K and Early Learning Evaluation Center and has headed many evaluation studies of statewide pre-k programs, including Georgia’s. “We’ll help design, implement, and rigorously evaluate pre-k and early learning programs,” Peisner-Feinberg said. “We’ll also disseminate evaluation findings to policymakers and other stakeholders.” Joining Peisner-Feinberg on the new center’s leadership team are co-director Virginia Buysse, who headed a seminal review of research last year on dual-language learners in public pre-k and Head Start programs, as well as FPG senior scientists Margaret Burchinal and Pamela Winton, and FPG investigator Chih-Ing Lim.
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