About ECES

IEA International Early Childhood Education Study (ECES)


The IEA International Early Childhood Education Study (ECES) is a new comparative research program of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). The purpose of ECES is to explore, describe and critically analyze early childhood education (ECE) provision and its role in preparing children for the learning and social demands of school and wider society. In this context, ECE is defined as formal group education and care provision outside the home for young children from birth up to the age of primary education. In particular, the study will aim to provide meaningful information for countries, states and jurisdictions across the world in relation to how ECE contributes to children's outcomes.


The objectives of the study are to:

  • Explore systematically, document, analyze the worldwide diversity of responses, meeting the challenge of supporting, educating and preparing our youngest citizens for school and wider society;
  • Map the systems, structures and user pathways in place, along with the perceptions of stakeholders about the system, its functioning and impact;
  • Measure the outcomes of ECE in preparing children for school and lifelong learning;
  • Examine the relationships between policy aims, ECE provision, family background and child outcomes;
  • Inform the development of high quality and inclusive ECE policy both nationally and internationally;
  • Provide a framework for countries to benchmark their ECE systems in an international context. 

The study is divided into two phases:


Phase 1 establishes policy context for ECE in the participating countries by gathering a rich array of data about the policy aims and goals for ECE; delivery models and providers; access and participation; quality (e.g. staff qualifications and training, group sizes); and expectations for outcomes.


Phase 2 of the study aims to collect information on children's competencies at the end of early childhood education complemented by contextual data on ECE settings, leaders/managers, practitioners and parents.


While Phase 1 is currently being conducted, Phase 2 of the study has been put on hold until a sufficient number of countries commit to the study.