Abt Associates: Bold thinkers driving real-world impact
Cambridge, Massachusetts, June 18, 2009 — Abt Associates will assist researchers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in an important study aimed at determining the effects of current Boston preschool programs on literacy, math and socio-emotional outcomes. The two-year study, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Educational Sciences, will help Boston, national, and state policy makers better understand the impact of investments in early childhood education programs.
Given that most existing preschool evaluation studies are based on programs implemented decades ago, this study will contribute more current data on the important policy question of the effects of government investment in early childhood learning. Boston is an excellent context in which to undertake this study as it is a racially and socio-economically diverse school district, and because it is a school district that has rapidly expanded preschool enrollment in a short period of time. Currently, 2,100 students participate in the City's full-day preschool program. The program has been expanding modestly every year, adding eight to ten new classrooms per year. The program is also implementing an early literacy curriculum and an early math curriculum district-wide, which will provide added opportunity for comparison and measurement.
Abt Associates is responsible for conducting the child assessment data collection for the study, and will be individually testing up to 3,400 four- and five-year-old preschool students to measure math, literacy and socio-emotional outcomes. Abt Associates will work closely with Harvard's Project Director, Ms. Christina Weiland, and Principal Investigator, Dr. Hirokazu Yoshikawa. The study, "Preparing to Succeed: An Efficacy Trial of Two Early Childhood Curricula," will use a regression discontinuity design and will compare results for a treatment group (students who attended preschool) and a control group (students who did not attend preschool), with treatment status determined by the District's September 1 birthday cutoff date for eligibility. The sample will include students diverse in race, socio-economic status and language.
"We are pleased to have the opportunity to work with these outstanding researchers at Harvard on this timely study," said Abt Associates project director Carolyn Layzer, Ph.D. "The results should inform policymakers in Boston and around the country about the impact and design of preschool programs on learning and development of young children."
Abt Associates' work in education research spans more than 30 years. The company has evaluated and influenced a wide range of programs and policies covering elementary, secondary, post secondary, and special education. Most recently the company has evaluated the federal Reading First and Student Mentoring programs.
Abt Associates applies scientific research, technical assistance and consulting expertise to a wide range of social, economic and health policy issues; international development; clinical trials and registries; and complex business problems. Founded in 1965, the company provides services to U.S. federal, state and local governments; international organizations and national governments; universities and foundations; media; and major corporations. Its staff of over 1,300 is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Atlanta, Georgia; Bethesda, Maryland; Durham, North Carolina; Lexington, Massachusetts (Abt Bio-Pharma Solutions, Inc.); New York, New York (Abt SRBI); and in Africa, Asia, Central Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.
Abt Associates is a mission-driven, global leader in research, evaluation and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Known for its rigorous approach to solving complex challenges, Abt Associates is regularly ranked as one of the top 20 global research firms and one of the top 40 international development innovators. The company has multiple offices in the U.S. and program offices in more than 40 countries.