The ECLS-K was designed to address a vast array of research issues. In general, the study focused on three broad areas: 1) schooling and performance, 2) status and transitions, and 3) the interaction of school, family, and community.
Schools and classrooms play a critical role as learning environments in promoting children's positive outcomes. The ECLS-K provides useful information on how schools and classrooms address the needs of all children, including those with special needs (e.g., due to limited English proficiency or disabling conditions). The ECLS-K collected data on how well children perform in different kinds of classrooms and schools and on the interaction between children's backgrounds and their performance in different learning settings. Data were collected on curriculum, instructional practices, resources, school climate, and background characteristics of teachers and administrators in order to examine the relationship between these factors and children's school performance over time.
Children enter kindergarten with differing levels of preparation for school and performance. Thus, issues that the ECLS-K focused on included the status of children at entry to kindergarten, the expectations of parents and schools about what skills, behaviors, and attributes are necessary for school success, and how children fare in the new environment as they make the transition from home to school. The study also measured children's skills and knowledge at several intervals from kindergarten through eighth grade.
Numerous factors influence children's educational and other life outcomes. The ECLS-K provides critical information on the roles that parents and families play in preparing for and supporting their children's education and how families, schools, and communities interact to support children's education. The ECLS-K focused on the resources of the family, the home environment, and the community that can have a profound impact on children's success in school and provide the context within which schools must operate.