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Learning Frontiers: Pre-K to Grade 3

Research Team

Name Name Name

Principal Investigator: Susan Sheridan

Co-Principal Investigators: Lisa Knoche, James Bovaird, Iheoma Iruka

Funding Information

Funding Agency: Institute of Education Sciences (IES)

Award Date: Jun 1, 2016

End Date: May 31, 2023


The long-term goal of this research is to close the achievement gap for disadvantaged children from Pre-K to Grade 3 by establishing a comprehensive understanding of early learning and achievement as influenced simultaneously by the settings within which children learn. 

The immediate objectives of the proposed Network project are to determine the influence of ecological systems — educational policy, community type, classroom/teacher, and family-school practices — and their interactions within one representative Midwestern state (Nebraska), and identify malleable factors that promote children’s academic and social-emotional learning and achievement through Grade 3. 

To pursue these goals, researchers will:

  • Describe the context of education for children living in socio-demographic disadvantage, including variations across rural and urban communities, through an exploration of state and local policies and practices associated with academic and social-emotional learning and school achievement from preschool to Grade 3. 
  • Identify malleable classroom processes and practices that are associated with disadvantaged children’s academic and social-emotional learning in preschool and the early elementary grades across rural and urban settings. 
  • Identify short- and long-term effects of malleable factors on children’s academic and social-emotional learning and achievement as they progress from preschool through Grade 3. 
  • Determine whether malleable classroom and family-school factors narrow the achievement gap for children living in socio-demographic disadvantage. Investigating policies, practices, and associated outcomes in varying community settings within one federal and statewide policy context will advance the field’s understanding of how interactions among policies, settings, and practices affect children’s early learning and ongoing academic success at significant points along the developmental trajectory.

Rural Education & Communities, Early Education & Development

From left, Lisa Knoche, CYFS co-director, and Susan Sheridan, CYFS director
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