Early Childhood Care and Education


Abt has a long history of influencing policy and programmatic decisions on early education and care, starting with the seminal National Day Care Study in the 1970s, which focused on the extent to which federal regulatory levers affected outcomes for young children. Since then, Abt has continued to help the field evolve through multiple large-scale studies of specific program models, improving our understanding of the mechanisms that provide quality in early childhood settings. Abt’s work has contributed to an extensive knowledge base about how to measure quality in different kinds of early learning settings, and how to measure children’s outcomes across all developmental domains.


Selected Expertise

Preparing the Early Childhood Workforce

Abt is engaged in early childhood workforce development at the state, national and international levels. For example, we currently serve as strategic advisors to the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care as it creates a comprehensive and aligned statewide early childhood workforce development system. Further, as part of the Variations in Implementation of Quality Interventions (VIQI) project for the Administration for Children and Families, Abt is training center-based care providers to implement curricula designed to improve the quality of children’s care environments and, in turn, their developmental outcomes. For USAID, Abt is helping the Malawi government to refine its early-grade reading assessment system and to empower its teachers to assess and support early-grade literacy.

Equal Access to High Quality Early Care and Education

We believe everyone child should have access to high quality early care and education, and we work to ensure that’s true for disadvantaged children and their families. For example, Abt is currently working with Harvard University to launch the Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) which will follow approximately 5,000 3- and 4-year-olds from across Massachusetts, and shed light on how families access different forms of early care and education. Abt also is leading an evaluation of the Massachusetts Preschool Expansion Grant (PEG), which is expanding high-quality early childhood education to more than 800 four-year-old children per year in five underserved communities. As part of this evaluation, Abt is examining whether this initiative has effectively increased access to high quality early care and education for children from low-income communities.

Cultural and Linguistic Diversity

The Abt team has a long-standing commitment to and understanding of cultural and linguistic diversity, and a history of implementing innovative and customized evaluative techniques for diverse communities. For example, Abt also is conducting a study that will provide a much needed update to our understanding of the characteristics of Migrant and Seasonal Head Start programs and the families they serve.

Measuring Classroom Quality

Abt brings substantive expertise in relevant measurement tools and techniques. We have experience using a variety of tools to measure classroom quality, such as the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), the Early Childhood Environment Rating System (ECERS-R), the Early Language and Literacy Classroom Observation (ELLCO), Teacher Observation in Preschools (TOP) and the Child Observation in Preschool (COP). These tools have been used in a number of recent studies, including the VIQI project and PEG study. Many Abt staff members are certified trainers or observers for these measures, and have experience training data collectors, too.

Implementation Science

Abt is providing real-time, meaningful feedback to programs thanks to evaluations that use cutting edge approaches to measure implementation. For example, the VIQI project is focused on identifying key dimensions of quality and implementation within early care and education settings, as well as the drivers that facilitate or inhibit successful implementation of quality strengthening interventions.


Contact Us

Headshot_Erin Bumgarner

Amy Checkoway

Principal Associate/Scientist, Social & Economic Policy

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