Building Evidence

Research shows low-income children who receive high-quality early education from infancy through age 5 perform better academically, stay in school longer and graduate.

The Dunbar Learning Complex is building evidence that its comprehensive and seamless education model with a two-generation approach achieves measurable, positive results in the lives of children and families. Through ongoing independent evaluations and in-house assessments, the complex is amassing a detailed record of this model’s impact. In addition to making the case for investments in high-quality, comprehensive early learning and development programs, these data inform the daily practice of teachers in the classroom, allowing them to provide individualized instruction to support each child and measure student progress.

The complex’s promising early results are attracting national attention. In fall 2012, its early learning center became an Educare school, joining an elite network of some of the highest-performing early learning schools serving children at risk of academic failure. Through careful data analysis and evaluation, the Educare network is demonstrating that providing high-quality care and early childhood education can eliminate the achievement gap between low-income children and their higher-income peers.

The Dunbar Learning Complex is building evidence through:

  • ongoing assessments: Students take a battery of assessments to measure their progress in the language and literacy, social-emotional and numeracy domains. Independent and in-house assessments are administered in the fall and spring each year to measure change over time, all with the goal of ensuring students achieve academic success.
  • real-time classroom improvement: Getting timely assessment results allows staff to use data to inform their instruction. One example of this is Teaching Strategies Gold, a nationally recognized early childhood assessment tool that helps Educare teachers determine whether each child is progressing on track from infancy through preschool using key indicators of future school success. Teaching Strategies Gold provides data to the teachers in real time so they can apply it to their daily classroom planning and instruction. This tool was introduced at Educare in fall 2011, and teachers receive ongoing training to improve their use of it.
  • continual professional development and coaching: All Educare teachers receive regular training from Sheltering Arms’ Georgia Training Institute. Teachers from both schools work with a coach from the Rollins Center for Language & Learning, a renowned early literacy leader. Evidence-based programs — including Opening the World of Learning, Parents as Teachers, the 4Rs Program and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports — help children develop strong language and literacy skills and foster their social and emotional health.
  • Educare implementation study: Educare Atlanta is participating in a network-wide study to document the features of the Educare model and how its implementation contributes to program quality and child and family success. The study is designed and managed by Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

The Dunbar Learning Complex is doing some great things. I can’t wait to watch as we compile more data over time to show the impact we are having on children and parents. This could affect the rest of the country!”
– Telisha “Penny” Pennamon, Educare Atlanta teacher