Un Buen Comienzo

Un Buen Comienzo (UBC) "A Good Start" P.I.: Snow, Catherine; Yoshikawa, Hirokazu. Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) and Harvard Medical School (HMS) are working on a major innovative effort to improve the quality of early childhood education and childrens health initiatives in Chile with collaboration of DRCLAS. The project builds on a successful July 2006 conference on "Enhancing the Quality of Early Education" held in Santiago, that was co-sponsored by the Fundación Educacional Oportunidad, DRCLAS, HGSE, and the Chilean Ministry of Education. UBC, with the Chilean ministries of Education and Health and other local institutions hopes to make a major contribution to the development, implementation and evaluation of successful early education interventions for children from low income families. The main focus is language and literacy skills, with an emphasis on parental involvement and child health. The project is developing education and health component modules to provide skills training for teachers from 0-6 years old. The pilot project and its evaluation has counted on the enthusiastic support of the Fundación Educacional Oportunidad, Centro de Estudios Educar, the World Bank and UNICEF. Numerous senior Harvard faculty members have visited Chile since the project began, including early education specialist and HGSE Dean Kathleen McCartney, HGSE Co-principal investigators Catherine Snow and Hiro Yoshikawa, as well as early childhood specialist Cathy Ayoub, and childhood health expert, Judith Palfrey.

Currently Un Buen Comienzo and Fundación Educacional Oportunidad are considered, at the regional level, examples of how to run professional development for preschool teachers and how to evaluate with a rigorous design. The project currently uses Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) to maximize stakeholder involvement and impact; the methodology is currently being used by the Agencia de Calidad de la Educación in Chile.

Our DRCLAS Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Andrea Rolla, was invited by the InterAmerican Development Bank to run a workshop this June for early childhood policymakers in Colombia on priorities for teacher professional development. Andrea Rolla, in collaboration with Renata Villers, a Harvard College alumna, co-organize a regional meeting in Cambridge each year with the support of DRCLAS. In 2016 , there were delegations from Costa Rica, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, the Netherlands, Peru, and Puerto Rico. Policymakers, researchers, and practitioners come to together to share insights on research-based policy and practice in preschool and language and literacy.

A postdoctoral fellow is currently working with Harvard to make the data from the original experimental study publicly available. Several masters' and doctoral theses have come from the project's work over the years. This summer, a Harvard undergraduate will conduct her senior thesis research under the auspices of the project.