Early Learning, Education, General

ECSO: Evaluation Report

In October of 2022 Abt Associates evaluated the implementation and impact of the ECSO initiative in the state of Massachusetts and released a report showcasing findings from the second year of the implementation study.

By Julie Asher, Partner, ECSO

December 1, 2022

In 2020, on the cusp of the pandemic, New Profit launched a unique public-private partnership with the state of Massachusetts’ Department of Early Education and Care to bring effective models of program improvement support to early education programs. As early education programs scrambled to meet emergency childcare needs and changing health and safety requirements, we worked with three selected Early Childhood Support Organizations to be ready to provide their services in a changing world and new context. When the ECSOs’ services were made available to the field in 2021, we weren’t even sure that programs would willingly engage in intensive professional development given all they had on their plates. So we are incredibly grateful to the participating programs and pleased to share the results of the first evaluation report conducted by Abt Associates.


“Having the data and expert capabilities of our evaluation partner, Abt Associates, not only tells us where we are succeeding, but where there are opportunities for improvement so that we can get the best results possible for young children.”

— Julie Asher, Partner

Three ECSOs, the Children’s Literacy Initiative, the Lastinger Center for Learning at the University of Florida, and the Center for Early Education Leadership and Innovation at UMass-Boston, bring their unique strengths to deliver a standard set of program supports. The ECSOs drive towards better classroom instruction by equipping program leaders with the skills and resources they need to provide job-embedded professional development to educators and support continuous quality improvement throughout their programs. In this first year of evaluation, some of the questions we were interested in answering include:

  • What are the intervention models of the ECSOs, and how do they vary?
  • What are the implementation experiences of participants? E.g.:
  • How do leaders and educators perceive leaders’ skills as leaders’ commitment to continuous improvement, and how does this vary by ECSO, program, and educator characteristics and changes over time?
  • Leader and educator perceptions of each program’s organizational culture and climate, how perceptions vary across programs, and for leaders and educators with different characteristics, any change over time?
  • What is the quality of instruction in classrooms of participating programs, and how does it change over time?

The evaluation activities included interviews with ECSO staff and participants, regular data collection from the ECSOs on their service delivery, pre- and post-surveys of educators and program leaders, and classroom observations. We have been excited to learn the following:

  • ECSOs were able to deliver the services in the dosages intended – particularly remarkable during the instability of the pandemic;
  • Leaders benefited from the support, improving their confidence and engaging more in positive leadership practices, including coaching educators;
  • Educators also benefited, reporting greater job satisfaction and receiving more training on crucial quality improvement strategies (like the use of classroom observation data);
  • Classroom quality improved significantly over the year in toddler and pre-k classrooms.

These positive early findings give us confidence that the ECSOs can ultimately deliver the impact we hope to see. We will launch an impact study this year to learn more about the results compared to programs that do not have these supports.

You can read the full report here.

To learn more about the ECSO initiative and its work to support early childhood education in Massachusetts, visit: www.newprofit.org/ecso