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Digest of Education Statistics: 2018
Digest of Education Statistics: 2018

NCES 2020-009
December 2019

Appendix A.2. Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort

The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) was designed to provide policymakers, researchers, child care providers, teachers, and parents with nationally representative information about children’s early learning experiences and their transition to child care and school. From the time the ECLS-B children were infants until they entered kindergarten, their cognitive and physical development was measured using standardized assessments, and information about their care and learning experiences at home, in early care and education settings, and at school was collected through interviews with adults in the children’s lives.

Data were collected from a sample of about 14,000 children born in the United States in 2001, representing a population of approximately 4 million. The children participating in the study came from diverse socioeconomic and racial/ethnic backgrounds, with oversamples of Chinese, other Asian and Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native children. There were also oversamples of twins and of children born with moderately low and very low birthweight. Children, their parents (including nonresident and resident fathers), their child care and early education providers, and their kindergarten teachers provided information on children’s cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development. Information was also collected about the children’s experiences across multiple settings (e.g., home, child care, and school).

Information about the ECLS-B children was collected when they were approximately 9 months old (2001–02), 2 years old (2003–04), and 4 years old/preschool age (2005–06). Additionally, in the fall of 2006, data were collected from all participating sample children, approximately 75 percent of whom were in kindergarten or higher. In the fall of 2007, data were collected from the approximately 25 percent of participating sample children who had not yet entered kindergarten or higher in the previous collection, as well as children who were repeating kindergarten in the 2007–08 school year.

In every round of data collection, children participated in assessment activities and parent respondents (usually the mothers of the children) were asked about themselves, their families, and their children. Resident fathers were asked about themselves and their role in the ECLS-B children’s lives in the 9-month, 2-year, and preschool collections. Similar information was collected from nonresident biological fathers in the 9-month and 2-year collections. In addition, beginning when the children were 2 years old, their child care and early education providers were asked to provide information about their own experience and training and their setting’s learning environment. At 2 years and at preschool, observations were conducted in the regular nonparental care and education arrangements of a subsample of children in order to obtain information about the quality of the arrangements. When the ECLS-B children were in kindergarten, their teachers were asked to provide information about the children’s early learning experiences and their school and classroom environments. Also, the before- and after-school care and education providers of children in kindergarten were asked to provide information about their own experience, their training, and their setting’s learning environment. School-level data, taken from other NCES datasets (the Common Core of Data and the Private School Universe Survey), and residential ZIP codes collected at each wave are also available.

Further information on the ECLS-B may be obtained from

Gail Mulligan
Jill McCarroll
Longitudinal Surveys Branch
Sample Surveys Division
National Center for Education Statistics
550 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20202