In April 2023, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) released a Request for Information seeking input on policies the Committee should consider in the upcoming reauthorization of the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA).
H.R. 3801, which included the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002, was signed into law on November 5, 2002. ESRA made educational data collection more robust and authorized a variety of federal government efforts to collect statistics and conduct research on education from preschool through post-secondary education and employment. ESRA established the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), an independent research arm of the U.S. Department of Education, which collects and analyzes education data. IES has multiple national research and development centers, one of which focuses on early childhood development and education. IES “supports rigorous and relevant research in education and special education, evaluation, and survey data collection to improve the school readiness skills of young children and examine children’s early learning and development during the preschool years (birth to five years old).”
As ESRA is overdue for reauthorization, FFYF has written the following letter encouraging the 118th Congress to strengthen research on early care and education (ECE) and improve early learning data access and use within states to empower educators and policymakers to enhance the quality and outcomes of early learning programs.
Expanding federal research is necessary to understand the complex and changing issues facing children, families, and ECE providers and to improve access to high-quality early learning opportunities. ECE is a fragmented space, and timely and relevant data are needed to help determine what services are available, where gaps persist, and how to best allocate resources. ESRA’s reauthorization is an opportunity to address the national need for robust early learning data access and use and to support state and local efforts to expand access to high-quality ECE through improved research and data, which play vital roles in shaping the policies and practices that support children’s learning and development.