Georgia State University faculty members Nicole Patton Terry, Gary Bingham and Kevin Fortner received a $400,000 grant from the Institute of Educational Sciences (IES) to expand on their work assessing the state and quality of early education in Atlanta Public Schools (APS).
Their project, entitled, “Atlanta 323: Partnership for School Readiness and Achievement from Age 3 to Grade 3,” began with a Spencer Foundation grant in 2016 to collect and analyze school readiness and achievement data on students in preschool, Pre-K, and kindergarten through third grade classrooms.
With the recent IES funding, Patton Terry, Bingham and Fortner will be able to add new partners to the project and convene a forum with a larger group of early learning providers to share their thoughts and create new partnerships around shared goals.
They will continue to collaborate with co-principal investigator Janelle Clay from APS, other district leaders and local early childhood education providers to create a database that links information on children from their preschool years through 3rd grade.
“Atlanta Public Schools’ Data and Information Group is pleased to join Georgia State University on the Atlanta 323,” said Michael LaMont, executive director of APS’s Data and Information Group. “Funding from the Institute for Education Sciences will allow the district to work with skilled researchers to develop a research infrastructure which will enable the district and other Pre-K providers in the city to use data to inform programming and policies that will impact our earliest learners.”
Armed with a database that can quickly and comprehensively assess the state of early learning, APS, early education providers and their stakeholders can use the information to make programmatic, practice and policy decisions about the city’s early learning system. This data could also help APS educators start conversations with funding agencies and local partner organizations about supporting students in typically underserved populations and potentially spur new research projects that address the school system’s specific needs.
“The database will allow them to launch new studies that answer key questions about student achievement and equity,” Patton Terry said. “Answers to these questions will provide the opportunity to design research teams whose activities will focus on developing and implementing evidence-based practices to improve school readiness and K-3 achievement.”
This grant project is housed in the college’s Urban Child Study Center, an interdisciplinary center and recent addition to the National Network of Education Research-Practice Partnerships that promotes the overall development and school success of children and youth in urban contexts through innovative research that informs policy and practice. Leveraging the college’s and university’s talent and resources, the center focuses on children, families, schools and communities.