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Early Learning

Early Learning

Early childhood – typically defined as preschool through about 3rd grade – is a critical developmental period and a core focus of the Curry School's research. From training early childhood teachers to cultivating policy partnerships across Virginia and beyond, UVA's education school is deeply committed and engaged in how to improve education for our littlest learners.

News & Media

  • $10 Million Gift Supports Early Learning

    Jane Batten’s gift will enable creation of professorships and fellowships in UVA’s Curry School, positively affecting the quality of education offered to young people.

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  • 2019 Early Childhood Education Summit

    Superintendents, policy makers, and experts gathered for a conversation about the status and future vision for Early Childhood Education in the Commonwealth of VA.

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  • New Undergraduate Major: Early Childhood Education

    In a major restructuring of its Teacher Education program, the Curry School is proud to launch 3 new undergraduate teaching majors, including Early Childhood Education.

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  • Running on a New Promise for Pre-K

    "Let’s stop thinking that pre-k, universal or targeted, is the silver bullet answer," writes Dean Pianta for The Hill.

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  • Researchers Pilot New Curriculum in Virginia

    The Curry School will pilot a new curriculum in 100 early childhood classrooms, half private and faith-based and half state or federally funded, over the next two years.

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  • Expanding Quality Early Childhood Education

    Virginia and Louisiana landed nearly $18M in federal grants to enhance early childhood education initiatives. Curry School researchers are a key part of both projects.

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  • The Latest News

    Stay in the know – click the link below for a full list of news stories about Early Learning.

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Measurable Impact

  • 99 %

    of Virginia kindergartners take Curry's readiness assessments

  • 6 th

    best Elementary Education program in the country

  • 50

    states use tools developed at the Curry School


Research Spotlight

In the Classroom

At the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning, or CASTL, researchers are breaking new ground in the study of how young children learn.

Literacy Innovation

Developed at the Curry School, the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening—or PALS—has become the gold standard for the reading assessment of PreK-3rd grade students, expanding into 99% of Virginia school divisions, 50 states, and multiple countries.

Kindergarten Readiness

The Curry School's suite of assessments that measures how prepared a child is for kindergarten is now in every single kindergarten classroom in both Virginia and Louisiana.

School Absences

Economically disadvantaged children are more likely to be chronically absent from school. How does absenteeism affect learning outcomes for young children?

Early STEM Skills

Weekly spacial playgroups, held at the Virginia Discovery Museum, are a living and growing collaboration including researchers, museum staff, and students to learn more about children's spacial skill development – a key skill for STEM learning.

Meet the Researchers

Daphna Bassok: Early Childhood Education Policy

Associate Professor, Associate Director of EdPolicyWorks

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Jamie DeCoster: Research Statistics & Methodology

Research Assistant Professor, CASTL

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Jason T. Downer: Early Childhood Achievement & Learning

Professor of Education, Director of CASTL

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Tanya Evans: Educational Neuroscience

Research Assistant Professor, CASTL

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David W. Grissmer: Achievement Gaps, R&D Funding Policy

Research Professor, CASTL

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Chris S. Hulleman: Motivation & Learning Mindsets

Associate Professor, CASTL

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Marcia A. Invernizzi: Early Language & Literacy

Professor Emeritus

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Jamie J. Jirout: Curiosity & Spatial Learning

Assistant Professor of Education, CASTL

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Jennifer LoCasale-Crouch: Early Childhood Classroom Interactions

Research Associate Professor, CASTL

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Luke C. Miller: Early Childhood Education Policy

Research Assistant Professor, EdPolicyWorks

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Katherine Miller-Bains: Large-Scale Teaching Supports

Research Assistant Professor, CASTL

Erik Ruzek: Classroom Climate

Research Assistant Professor, CASTL

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Khara Turnbull: Language Development & Classroom Discourse

Assistant Professor of Education, Researcher at CASTL

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Virginia E. Vitiello: Teacher-Child Interactions

Assistant Professor, CASTL

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Jessica E. Whittaker: Teacher-Child Interactions

Research Assistant Professor

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Vivian Wong: Research Methodology

Assistant Professor, EdPolicyWorks

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Early Learning News


Q&A: Why the Science of Reading is as Important as Ever

A UVA professor of reading education says that some children will need higher levels of intensive, targeted reading instruction at the beginning of this school year.


Researchers Awarded $4M Grant to Study ‘Read Well’ Program

Professor Emily Solari will lead a team of researchers to evaluate the Reading Well program’s impact on first grade children.


A child reading in a living room

Reading While At Home: Five Things Parents Should Know

How long should children spend reading each day? What if your child doesn’t like to read? Education professor Emily Solari offers tips and strategies for parents while children are learning at home.


Teacher reading a book with a class of preschool children

Free Resource Helps Teachers Prepare Children for the Future of STEM

Curry School researchers built a video library that aims to improve early learners’ mathematics skills by providing free professional development for preschool teachers.


Making Preschool More Effective: Study Connects Classroom Processes to Children’s Learning

A new study at the University of Virginia provides insight into how educators and policymakers can improve the quality of preschool experiences for children from low-income families.