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The Montessori Preschool Landscape in the United States: History, Programmatic Inputs, Availability, and Effects

Ackerman, Debra J.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Preschool Education, Montessori Schools, Educational Finance, School Support, Underserved Communities, Educational History, Access to Education, Learning Outcomes, Educational Effectiveness


The Day 1 Academies Fund aims to support a network of high‐quality, full‐scholarship, Montessori‐inspired preschools in underserved communities. To provide insight into the fund's pedagogical inspiration, in this report I provide a high‐level overview of the Montessori preschool landscape in the United States. This overview includes 5 key programmatic elements of a traditional Montessori approach to teaching and learning in classrooms serving preschool‐aged children, the reported availability of Montessori programs that enroll 3‐ and 4‐year‐old children, and what is known about enrollees' demographics. To situate this information in the larger, publicly financed, early education policy context, I also provide similar data for state‐funded pre‐K and federally funded Head Start programs for preschoolers. In addition, I review research on children's outcomes after participating in U.S.‐based Montessori preschool and elementary programs. This overview provides some context for understanding how the Day 1 Academies Fund eventually defines the constructs of high quality, Montessori inspired, and underserved. This review also suggests it could be useful for the Fund's stakeholders to undertake short‐term research examining the current early education options of families with low incomes living in low‐access‐to‐Montessori states as well as long‐term research aimed at expanding the research base on the effects of Montessori programs aimed at preschoolers.

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