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Bridging the Link Between Early Childhood and Kindergarten Readiness

REL Midwest, in collaboration with the Minnesota Service Cooperatives hosted a full-day event to discuss the effect of early childhood academic content on later student achievement. The event featured Amy Claessens, Ph.D., of the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. She discussed the research on the persistent effects of preschool, particularly mathematics and reading content, on student achievement. Dr. Claessens emphasized the importance of challenging and playful academic content in early childhood education.

The event also featured a panel discussion with researchers and practitioners who discussed evidence-based and promising practices in early childhood education. This event was designed to address the U.S. Department of Education’s priority area of high-quality early childhood education.


Event Presentation Materials



Amy Claessens, Ph.D., assistant professor, University of Chicago, Harris School of Public Policy

Shannon Riley-Ayers, Ph.D., assistant research professor, National Institute for Early Education Research, Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes

Margarita Calderón, Ph.D., professor emerita, Johns Hopkins University

Megan Cox, Ph.D., assessment specialist, Minnesota Department of Education


Related Resources

Barnett, W. S. (1995). Long-term effects of early childhood programs on cognitive and school outcomes. The Future of Children, 5(3), 25–50. Retrieved from

Bassok, D., Claessens, A., & Engel, M. (2014). The case for the new kindergarten: Challenging and playful. Education Week, 33(33). Retrieved from

Claessens, A., Engel, M., & Curran, F. C. (2013). Academic content, student learning, and the persistence of preschool effects. American Educational Research Journal, 51(2), 403–434.

Riley-Ayers, S. (2014). Formative assessment: Guidance for early childhood policymakers (CEELPolicy Report). New Brunswick, NJ: National Institute of Early Education Research, Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes. Retrieved from

Slavin, R. E., Madden, N., Calderón, M., Chamberlain, A., & Hennessy, M. (2011). Reading and language outcomes of a multiyear randomized evaluation of transitional bilingual education. Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 33(1), 47–58.