Early Childhood Education - Work in Progress and Outcomes

Examples of UVA’s early childhood education academic outreach projects and activities in the Commonwealth include:

Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Project

As a result of the Virginia Kindergarten Readiness Project report released in January 2015 that found about one-third of Virginia students lacked at least one important element of readiness for kindergarten, the Virginia General Assembly awarded $1 million to researchers at the Curry School of Education’s Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning *

Fairfax County Research to Support Learning in PK-3

With the $5 million of funding from the Institute of Education Sciences, Dean Bob Pianta and his team will conduct a school division-wide study of the policies and practices that support learning in PK-3 classes. Their research will take place in the Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) division, the 11th largest in the U.S. with more than 2,000 pre-kindergarten students enrolled. The research team will pay particularly close attention to instructional experiences and other resources for learning present in Pre-K and elementary classrooms to the large group of low-income, immigrant, and dual language learners in the FCPS division.

Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI+)

The Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) is playing a vital role in transforming Virginia’s existing State Preschool Program into a national exemplar. In 2014, the US Department of Education awarded the state a $17.5 million expansion grant to fund a project called Virginia Preschool Initiative Plus (VPI+) that will allow the Commonwealth to serve as many as 3,000 additional at-risk four-year-olds in new, high quality classrooms annually. With the VPI+ Initiative, CASTL aims to partner with divisions to transform Virginia’s existing State Preschool Program into a national exemplar.  The U.S. Department of Education praised Virginia for its 'bold and innovative plan'. 

This new project is an extension of the existing Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI), a state-funded program that currently supports quality preschool programs for approximately 18,000 under privileged four-year-olds in the state. The expansion grant kicks the VPI into high gear; 11 school divisions across the state will reap the benefits of cutting edge educational research and a rigorous community outreach initiative designed to reach and help as many Pre-K children as possible.

CASTL initiated the first Leadership Academy in January 2016, as part of the VPI+ Initiative. The academy is intended to help division teams use data to plan program improvement and professional development for teachers.  Another goal of the Leadership Academy is to bring division teams together to learn with and from each other.  

Curry School of Education Hosts the 2nd Annual House Education Committee Summit

The Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia hosted the 2nd Annual House Education Committee Summit on November 11, 2015, an event bringing together Virginia legislators with state and national education experts to discuss the a variety of topics with the goal of increasing the success of Virginia’s public education system. For two days, members of the Virginia House of Delegates joined state and national education experts to discuss a variety of education topics such as early childhood education, higher education, public charter schools, educational leadership, and making effective use of student data to increase achievement gains.

Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS)

The Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) provides a comprehensive assessment of young children’s knowledge of the important literacy fundamentals that are predictive of future reading success. Created at the Curry School of Education, PALS is the state-provided screening tool for Virginia’s Early Intervention Reading Initiative (EIRI) and is used by 99% of school divisions in the state on a voluntary basis.

Virginia’s Early Childhood Workforce Recommendations

With funding from the Kellogg Foundation and the National Academies, researchers from CASTL are at work with colleagues from the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, George Mason, Longwood and several community colleges to implement recommendations from the National Academy of Medicines’ April 2015 report on the early childhood workforce. The team’s goal is to make a set of Virginia-specific recommendations on supporting a clearer pathway to higher education and competency for Virginia’s early childhood workforce.

*The mission of the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) at UVA’s Curry School of Education is to advance the quality and impact of teaching through scientific study in educational settings from infancy to higher education.  CASTL is an interdisciplinary center that provides leadership on effective teaching and learning. The goal of CASTL is to meaningfully transform education by:

  • Developing evidence-based theories of effective teaching and learning via large, longitudinal studies of diverse classrooms around the world.
  • Creating, evaluating, and disseminating tools for measuring and improving teaching and   learning.
  • Developing innovative support systems that develop useful knowledge and skills via cutting-  edge applications of technology.