In January 2003, Columbia University’s Institute for Child and Family Policy, the National Prekindergarten Center at the University of North Carolina, and the Foundation for Child Development hosted an invitational, half-day conference entitled, Setting a Research Agenda for Prekindergarten. Held in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington DC, the meeting brought together a select, bipartisan and multidisciplinary group of 34 stakeholders to discuss early childhood research priorities. The primary purpose of the conference was to engage a diverse group of legislative staffers, state and federal policymakers, advocates and academic researchers in a dialogue about essential questions and issues necessary to develop a coordinated research agenda for prekindergarten.
The meeting extended work by Columbia’s Institute for Child and Family Policy in which more than 60 prominent policymakers, researchers, advocates and funders were interviewed about research needed to inform the development and implementation of universal preschool programs in the U.S. Results from the survey served as a starting point for far-ranging discussions about federal research priorities in early childhood education, as well as the role of research in federal and state policymaking.