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Minnesota Early Learning Foundation Evaluation

The Minnesota Early Childhood Dataset,
which was created using data from the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation Evaluation,
is available for use by students, researchers, and other groups.
Click here for more information on the dataset.

The Minnesota Early Learning Foundation (MELF) set out in 2007 to increase the evidence base on which early care and education practices effectively promote the school readiness of children from low income or otherwise at-risk families. Strategically funding the implementation and evaluation of multiple projects, MELF aims to use results to develop a clear set of recommendations contributing to the development of a seamless, comprehensive, and cost-effective early care and education system in Minnesota. CEED served as the external evaluator for several MELF-funded community grantees, and provided ongoing evaluation coordination among MELF Research Consortium partners Child Trends, SRI International, and Wilder Research.

Evaluations of MELF initiatives benefit from multiple methods, with instruments designed and shared across all MELF funded evaluations, including the Saint Paul Early Childhood Scholarship Evaluation and the Parent Aware Pilot Evaluation. Methods included several standardized and non-standardized measures of children used to capture broad dimensions of school readiness, as well as interviews with parents and program staff, surveys completed by providers, home visitors, directors, and members of early childhood partnerships, and ratings of program quality.

MELF Community Initiatives

Through a competitive process, MELF funded the community grants based on their innovative approaches and ability, collectively, to highlight key challenges facing the early care and education field. The grants varied widely to best capture examples of service models, methods, and systems important to the development of a seamless and comprehensive system of care and education for the state of Minnesota. Some programs explored strategies to improve the infrastructure supporting early care and education services, while others explored program implementation strategies directly affecting families and children. All were intended to improve the understanding of what is necessary to improve school readiness outcomes in children at risk.

Together the grantees represented a continuum of services and infrastructures designed to meet the often intense needs of low-income children, families, and communities. The evaluations of these efforts offer rich examples of the contexts surrounding grantees as they grapple with multiple issues affecting their program’s implementation and evaluation.

Community Initiative Final Report

CEED served as the external evaluator for the MELF-funded community grants. The purpose of this final report is to summarize results for the grants, capturing an array of service models, methods, and systems.  Strategies for promoting (a) school readiness, (b) family access, (c) quality, (d) evaluation and reporting, and (e) systems coordination conclude this report.

MELF Kindergarten Follow Up Study

The first cohort of children from MELF-funded early care programs transitioned into Kindergarten in Fall 2009. This provides an important opportunity to examine the experiences of children as they move into the K-12 system in Minnesota, and about the role quality programming plays in preparing a child for ongoing school success. Further research is needed to understand how high quality programming early in a child’s life predict longer term student outcomes and protect earlier investments. This is particularly the case for children from low income or non-English speaking families.

The purpose of this study is to:

  • describe the transition to kindergarten for a sample including many low income, non- English speaking, and non-white children in Minnesota who participated in an early care and education experience;
  • establish the degree to which success in school is predicted by the quality of their early care and education experience; and
  • examine how features related to their K-12 educational experiences affect their school success over the long and short term.
  • MELF Kindergarten Follow Up Study Project Description, Spring 2010 (1 page)

Related Resources

MELF Project video

View a 30-minute video presentation on CEED's MELF Project filmed at the start of this project, presented by Amy Susman Stillman and Scott McConnell. Requires Flash. Click the image to view video.

Project Staff

Scott McConnell, Co-Principal Investigator

Amy Susman-Stillman, MELF and Follow-up Study Co-Principal Investigator

Yvonne Godber, Research Associate and Follow-up Study Co-Principal Investigator

Sarah Friese, Database Coordinator

Nikki Kovan, Research Associate

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Last modified on February 21, 2013.