Assessing the effectiveness of Australian early childhood education and care experiences: Study protocol

Tayler, Collette, Cloney, Daniel, Adams, Ray, Ishimine, Karin, Thorpe, Karen, & Nguyen, Thi Kim Cuc (2016) Assessing the effectiveness of Australian early childhood education and care experiences: Study protocol. BMC Public Health, 16(352).

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  • In Australia, 61.5 % of children aged 3–4 attend Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) programs. Children’s experiences within these programs vary widely and impact directly on educational wellbeing and social development. Research has shown that higher quality programs enhance children’s learning and developmental outcomes, foster social participation and have long-lasting effects on their productivity as adults. Quality matters, yet we do not know what components of ECEC result in a quality program.

  • Effective Early Educational Experiences (E4Kids) is a 5-year longitudinal study designed to identify and assess the impact of mainstream ECEC programs and program components on children’s learning, development, social inclusion and well-being. E4Kids sets out to measure quality ECEC; identify components that add value and positively impact children’s outcomes; evaluate the effects of child, family, community and environment characteristics on programs; and provide evidence on how best to invest in ECEC.


  • E4Kids follows a sample of 2,494 children who have experienced a variety of approved care programs (long day care, kindergarten, family day care and occasional care), as well as 157 children who have not accessed such programs. Children are tracked to the first point of National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) testing at Year 3. The study presents a multi-level design in which ECEC programs were sampled from two states – Queensland and Victoria – then randomly sampled from two greater metropolitan regions and two regional and remote locations.

  • Parents, centre directors, educators and carers complete questionnaires to provide information on demographics and children’s progress. Data collected also include the make-up and organisation of ECEC programs and schools children attended. The quality of adult-child interactions is directly assessed using the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) and direct testing of children’s cognitive abilities and achievements is undertaken over 3 years and linked with NAPLAN scores.


  • Findings from the E4Kids study have the potential to influence the quality of ECEC available in Australia by providing up-to-date evidence on the impact of ECEC programs and program components to inform future policy decisions and research.

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ID Code: 98386
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: early education and care, ECEC, longitudinal tracking, quality programs, E4Kids, program effectiveness, socio-economic status, families, home learning environment, children's wellbeing
DOI: 10.1186/s12889-016-2985-1
ISSN: 1471-2458
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Copyright Owner: 2016 Tayler et al.
Copyright Statement: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0
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Deposited On: 30 Aug 2016 23:08
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2016 21:34

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