Exploring Heterogeneity Across Multiple Cluster Randomized Trials in Early Childhood: Evidence on intervention implementation and fadeout

Early Childhood Initiative Series
Tyler Watts, Assistant Professor of developmental psychology, Department of Human Development, Teachers College, Columbia University

Tyler Watts presented data from four cluster randomized trials that evaluated the scale up of the Building Blocks preschool mathematics curriculum. These trials were run in five different cities, producing a range of effects on measures of children’s mathematics achievement. Watts discussed recent efforts to examine school-level factors that explain the heterogeneity in treatment impacts at the end of the preschool year. He also presented results from exploratory models that examine whether school and child characteristics explain heterogeneity in patterns of fadeout through the end of the kindergarten. These results carry implications for efforts to successfully scale empirically-evaluated curricula, as well as ongoing discussion regarding the fadeout and persistence of early childhood intervention impacts.

Watts is an assistant professor of developmental psychology in the Department of Human Development at Teachers College, Columbia University. He studies educational policies designed to promote the cognitive and socio-emotional development of children from underserved communities.

He is currently working on several large-scale, longitudinal, studies of early childhood development, including evaluations of the Chicago School Readiness Project and the Building Blocks preschool mathematics curriculum. He seeks to understand whether interventions designed to boost children’s early cognitive and behavioral skills will make long-lasting changes on developmental outcomes.

Watts received his Ph.D. in education from the University of California, Irvine, in 2017. His work is funded by the Institute of Educational Sciences and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. His studies have been published in American Psychologist, Psychological Science, Child Development, Educational Researcher and The Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness.

The Early Childhood Initiative seeks to bring together scholars to address early childhood challenges and produce world-class scholarship that will help maximize the potential of all children during their early years.