Using Rapid-Cycle Techniques to Spur and Test Innovation: The Early Learning Lab

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Early Learning Lab

Improving interactions between children and the influential adults in their lives is key to later success in life. Understanding how we can efficiently help give parents, caregivers, and teachers the skills they need to do their jobs well is a critical policy concern.

The Early Learning Lab is developing collaborations focused on innovations to support great teaching and, in turn, promote the well-being of all young children through evidence-based approaches.

The lab supports the early childhood education field by identifying, developing, and catalyzing the use of innovative tools, program design, and technologies. The vision is to drive smart practices, solutions, and systems to amplify early childhood learning.

Smart practices: The lab focuses on key skills and practices that parents, caregivers, and teachers need to support children’s healthy development and learning.

Smart solutions: The lab identifies and promotes large-scale adoption of strategies and solutions that build these critical skills for great caregiving and teaching of young children from birth to age five.

Smart systems: The lab moves beyond the limits of program replication and creates policy change that drives smart investments.

Goals include:

  • Supporting coordinated experimentation in select communities
  • Catalyzing innovation and experimentation for fast learning
  • Driving the field toward new approaches to scaling impact
  • Synthesizing knowledge, providing tools, and building a national collaborative for engagement and learning

Mathematica is providing input and support to the lab, developing logic models, and assisting with testing and learning design for the lab’s work with three diverse California communities. These grantees are part of the Packard Foundation’s Starting Smart and Strong initiative and are already engaged in early childhood innovation and reform. The teams are developing experiments to evaluate implementation, using data to monitor their success, and engaging in rapid-cycle problem solving to extend the reach and scale of successful innovations. Read more about the Early Learning Lab (PPT), view videos from the Next Generation Testing and Learning Summit, and see the poster presented at the Carnegie Foundation Summit on Improvement in Education.

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