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IEA Preprimary Project



Preschool teacher and children in Thailand






United States

Worldwide child care and education: The IEA Preprimary Project

The IEA Preprimary Project is a groundbreaking cross-national study of early childhood care and education. The purpose of this longitudinal study was to identify how characteristics of preprimary settings, such as teaching practices and structural features, are related to children's language and cognitive development at age 7.

The project is the first preprimary study sponsored by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA); the HighScope Educational Research Foundation has served as the International Coordinating Center and the U.S. National Research Center for this complex study.

The research is unique because many diverse countries participated and used common instruments to measure family background, teachers' characteristics, structural features of settings, children's experiences, and children's developmental status. This far-reaching study offers valuable information on the use of early childhood services worldwide and the effects of those services on the lives of children and families. It is a benchmark for future studies and carries implications for early childhood program development.

The final phase of IEA Preprimary Project is complete. 

The project was conducted in three phases:

Phase 3 (1993–2006) is complete and finalizes the project by documenting how, in 10 countries, experiences in preprimary settings at age 4 are related to children's language and cognitive performance at age 7. The findings have been published in Early Childhood Research Quarterly. Available here are a preprint version of the full paper and a brief summary. 

Phase 2 (1989–2001) used extensive observational and interview data to examine the time-use, interactive, and structural characteristics of each of the 15 participating countries' major types of early childhood settings and to explore the effects of program and family factors on children's developmental status at age 4. Findings are featured in three of the monographs listed below.

Phase 1 (1986–1989) produced profiles of national policies regarding early childhood services, and used a household survey to identify and characterize the major early childhood care and education settings used by families with preschool-aged children in each nation. Findings are published in two books presented below. 

The 15 participating nations in Phase 2 of the IEA Preprimary Project were Belgium, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Italy, and Spain in western Europe; Poland, Romania, and Slovenia in eastern Europe; China (People's Republic), Hong Kong, Indonesia, and Thailand in Asia; Nigeria in Africa; and the United States in North America. Data from 10 of these countries (Finland, Greece, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Spain, Thailand, and the United States) were included in the Phase 3 study.

For more information on the IEA Preprimary Project, see: 

Montie, J. E., Xiang, Z., & Schweinhart, L. J. (Eds.) (2007). Role of preschool experience in children's development in 10 countries. Ypsilanti, MI: HighScope Press.

Weikart, D. P., Olmsted, P.P., & Montie, J. (Eds.) (2003). A world of preschool experience: Observations in 15 countries. Ypsilanti, MI: HighScope Press.

Olmsted, P. P., & Montie, J. (Eds.) (2001). Early childhood settings in 15 countries: What are their structural characteristics? Ypsilanti, MI: HighScope Press.

Weikart, D.P. (Ed.) (1999). What should young children learn? Teacher and parent views in 15 countries. Ypsilanti, MI: HighScope Press.

Olmsted, P. P., & Weikart, D. P. (Eds.) (1994). Families speak: Early childhood care and education in 11 countries. Ypsilanti, MI: HighScope Press.

Olmsted, P. P., & Weikart, D. P. (Eds.) (1989). How nations serve young children: Profiles of child care and education in 14 countries. Ypsilanti, MI: HighScope Press.

more information

Phase 3 findings
Brief summary

Press release
IEA Preprimary Project findings hold great promise for children's performance

related products

The Role of Preschool Experience in Children's Development

How Nations Serve Young Children



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