• Jade Marcus Jenkins

    Associate Professor, University of California, Irvine

  • I'm an Associate Professor at UCI's School of Education studying early childhood development policy. My work is multidisciplinary, and focuses on issues that are amenable to policy intervention, using diverse research methods to evaluate programs and understand the mechanisms that promote child and family wellbeing.


    I grew up in New York, and received my B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Florida in Family, Youth and Community Sciences, and Ph.D. in Public Policy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. My Master's focus was in community development and poverty reduction.


    After the M.S. program, I worked in Florida’s early childhood care and education system. This firsthand experience in policy implementation was my primary motivation to pursue a Ph.D. in public policy and specialize in early childhood development to learn how to evaluate and develop policies that provide support for families with young children and reduce poverty in the long-term.

  • Curriculum Vitae

  • Recent Publications

    Who participates in State Quality Rating and Information Systems (QRIS)? (forthcoming, Early Childhood Research Quarterly)

    Even with rapid and widespread expansion of states’ quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS)—tiered frameworks that assess, communicate, and improve early childhood education (ECE) quality—there exists no population-level information regarding which providers choose to participate in these primarily voluntary systems. We use a nationally representative survey of ECE centers to examine how the characteristics of ECE centers and the communities in which they are located predict participation in QRIS to understand the scope of QRIS policy implementation and the extent to which QRIS may be equity enhancing. We find that approximately one-third of centers nationwide participated in QRIS in 2012. Selection model results reveal that participation is more likely among centers that blend multiple funding sources and who are NAEYC accredited, and in communities with high poverty rates. However, QRIS participation is less likely in communities with high proportions of African American residents. Findings raise questions about how QRISs can equitably engage programs in all communities. (with J. Duer and M. Connors).

    Complementarities between preschool and later educational quality? A systematic review of the Sustaining Environments hypothesis (2020, Developmental Review)

    The sustaining environments hypothesis refers to the popular idea, stemming from theories in developmental, cognitive, and educational psychology, that the long-term success of early educational interventions is contingent on the quality of the subsequent learning environment. Several studies have investigated whether specific kindergarten classroom and other elementary school factors account for patterns of persistence and fadeout of early educational interventions. These analyses focus on the statistical interaction between an early educational intervention – usually whether the child attended preschool – and several measures of the quality of the subsequent educational environment. The key prediction of the sustaining environments hypothesis is a positive interaction between these two variables. To quantify the strength of the evidence for such effects, we meta-analyze existing studies that have attempted to estimate interactions between preschool and later educational quality in the United States. We then attempt to establish the consistency of the direction and a plausible range of estimates of the interaction between preschool attendance and subsequent educational quality by using a specification curve analysis in a large, nationally representative dataset that has been used in several recent studies of the sustaining environments hypothesis. Both analyses yield interaction estimates of approximately 0. We consider a range of plausible explanations, including 1) the null hypothesis is true, 2) we did not have statistical power to detect interactions of a realistic magnitude, 3) model misspecification because of theoretical ambiguity, and 4) heterogeneity of these interactions across treatments, contexts, and children. We offer a set of recommendations for future research on the sustaining environments hypothesis. (with D. Bailey and D. Alvarez-Vargas).

    Do Immigration Raids Deter Head Start Enrollment? (2020, American Economic Association Papers and Proceedings)

    We study whether immigration raids lead to a decrease in Hispanic Head Start enrollment. Using a dataset of nationwide raids from 2006 through 2008, a period of intensified enforcement, we extend the evidence in four ways. First, we provide the first large-scale evidence on the causal impact of local immigration raids.1 Second, we find robust evidence that immigration raids decrease Hispanic enrollment in Head Start by 10 percent. Third, we propose an empirical strategy to disentangle enrollment changes coming from leaving a community (mobility effect) versus disengaging in services (deterrence effect). Finally, we find evidence that the decrease in Hispanic enrollment is driven by a deterrence effect, which suggests that families are staying in their communities but not enroll- ing their children in Head Start. (with R. Santillano and S. Potochnick).

    Psychometric Validation and Reorganization of the Desired Results Developmental Profile (2019, Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment)

    This study reports an independent investigation of the psychometric properties of the Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP), a teacher-rated measure of school readiness for preschool-aged children. In a sample of 2,031 low-income, three- to five-year old children attending Head Start, we tested three measurement models: a higher order one-factor model, a 7-factor model, and a 5-factor model. To explore the appropriateness of the DRDP for use with diverse populations of young children, we used multiple group and differential item functioning (DIF) analyses to determine whether the DRDP works differently for dual language learners (DLL) and non-DLLs. The proposed 5-factor structure fits the data best, with greater face and statistical validity. Using this conceptually-driven factor structure, the multiple group analyses were robust for DLL and non-DLL preschool students. More than half of the items on the DRDP displayed little DIF. Items measuring emergent language and literacy exhibited DIF favoring non-DLL children.

  • Working Papers

    Please feel free to email me for the most updated version of the papers below or on my CV

    Child care subsidies play an important role in stabilizing parental employment and helping low-income families access affordable child care. With limited federal requirements under CCDBG, states have developed divergent policies for their child care subsidy programs. Our study uses a combination of state-by-year data from 38 states to examine how six key CCDF policy levers across dimensions of administrative burden and generosity relate to stability in children’s care in the CCDF program, known as subsidy “spells.”: (1) length of eligibility redetermination period; (2) reporting requirements for income changes; (3) grace period for care before termination of services; (4) provider reimbursement rates; (5) parent copay amounts; and (6) difference between initial and continuing eligibility income thresholds. We exploit states’ changes in these policy dimensions during a 10-year period (2004-2013) with state fixed effects analyses to address endogeneity, using multiple data sources. We find that administrative burdens robustly affect child spell length; increasing states’ redetermination period length by one month increased state median subsidy spell length by 1.4 weeks, but requiring all changes in family income to be reported throughout families’ enrollment in CCDF decreases spell length by 2.3 weeks. However, CCDF policy generosity was not related to spell length. (with T. Nguyen).

    Policymakers at the federal and state levels aim to expand public early childhood education (ECE) programs, such as prekindergarten programs, with many states providing universal preschool to all age-eligible residents. Yet there exists limited evidence on how a universal ECE intervention like prekindergarten programs may influence the wellbeing of children in the long-run. In this paper, we examine the effects of state mandatory kindergarten requirements on long-run educational attainment and labor market outcomes. While in most states kindergarten began as a voluntary program, starting in the 1970s some states evolved to mandating kindergarten attendance. Several changes in state mandatory school entrance laws across states over time provide an opportunity to causally identify the influence of an additional year of ECE on important individual education and labor market outcomes, comparing states with mandatory attendance to those with voluntary attendance. We exploit this natural experimental design using data from the ACS 2008-2017. Findings indicate no overall impacts of mandatory kindergarten policies on educational attainment in adulthood, but substantial heterogeneous impacts, with women and Hispanic and Black individuals benefiting most in terms of educational attainment, poverty reduction, and income. Our findings indicate that states’ investments in universal early education pay off in the long run, and are equity enhancing. (with M. Rosales-Rueda).

    Navigating the Financing of Early Childhood Education: An Examination of Blended Funding

    As a result of a patchwork policy approach, many early childhood education programs combine funding from multiple streams coined as a “blended funding” model. However, little is known about how blended funding models relate to adherence to high-quality early childhood standards. Using organizational theory, this research explores how blended funding influences early childhood programs. Our study uses national survey data to first identify the prevalence of blended funding models and Quality Counts California data to describe the relation between blended funding models and program quality. Results suggest an overall positive association between a program’s number of funding streams and program quality measured by CLASS, ECERS, and QRIS scores. Findings highlight that early education programs often blend funding from Head Start, state pre-k, and additional streams, and offer support for resource dependency theory by identifying the positive relation between blended funding models and adherence to high-quality standards. (with J. Duer).

    A new concern in parents’ child rearing decisions is whether to enroll their child in kindergarten “on time”, when they are first age-eligible, or to delay their kindergarten entry, known as “redshirting”. The literature on delayed entry and relative age at kindergarten entry show mixed results, at least in part because of the selection bias related to school entry decisions. Our paper addresses this gap by providing the first causal estimates of the effects of redshirting on achievement outcomes by exploiting an exogenous policy change in the birthdate enrollment cutoff for public schools in North Carolina (NC). NC moved the birthdate cutoff from Oct 15th to September 1st for children entering school in the 2009-2010 school year. This change required children born in these six weeks of the year to delay kindergarten entry, which essentially forced parents to redshirt their children. We compare the outcomes of these “forced” redshirted children with the outcomes of their peers (from leading and trailing cohorts) using census-level administrative data with exact birthdates to identify the impact of redshirting on achievement outcomes and on students’ curricular determinations of giftedness or having a disability in third through fifth grades. We find that delayed kindergarten entry provides small benefits to students’ math and reading achievement, and makes children slightly less likely to be identified with a disability. We also find heterogeneous benefits for students who are low-income and non-white. (with C. K. Fortner).

    In or Out of Sync: Federal Funding and Research in Early Childhood

    Understanding the relation between federal investment and research has implications for promoting science production in early childhood, a rapidly expanding area in both education research and policy. Federally- funded research has shaped fundamental issues in early childhood, yet few studies have systematically examined the relation between federal grants and publication output. Our study applies topic modeling and regression analyses on a text corpus of 15,608 publication and grant abstracts in early childhood education to distill the most prominent topics, and the relationship between grant funding and later publications within these topics. We find that grants topics focused on health and early intervention, while publications covered a wider range. We also find that topic prevalence in grants in a given year can predict its prevalence in publications in the following year. The study illustrates the affordances of textual analyses and contributes insights about the extent to which federal investment motivates scholarly innovation. (with H. Nguyen).

    Impact of the Introduction of Pre-Kindergarten Programs on Head Start Enrollment of Children with Disabilities​

    Using almost 30 years of national administrative data of all Head Start grantees in the country and a quasi-experimental design, this study is the first to examine the impacts of the introduction of state pre-k on Head Start enrollment of children with disabilities. We found that the implementation of pre-k has led to a 1 percentage point (7 percent) decrease in Head Start enrollment of children with disabilities. This decrease was primarily driven by the decrease of the enrollment of children with speech impairment. Additional analyses revealed that pre-k significantly affected the enrollment of children with disabilities identified before Head Start enrollment but not those identified after. We also found that HS programs located in school systems were able to circumvent some of the impact and saw an increase specifically in their enrollment of children with disabilities identified before Head Start enrollment. Implications for the changing parental preference for Head Start and future research and policies were discussed. (with Q. Zhang).

    Standards, Curriculum, and Assessment in Early Childhood Education: A Comparison of States’ Preschool Curricula Mandates and Quality Rating Systems

    To generate systematic improvements in the early learning experiences of children in public early childhood education (ECE) programs, it is important that researchers, administrators, and policymakers understand the policy levers currently in place that aim to improve the effectiveness of ECE programs. Our study focuses on three policy levers: 1) early learning standards; 2) curricula; and 3) Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). To examine the intersections of these three major policies, we compiled a 50-state dataset from multiple sources to examine preschool early learning standards, curricular guidelines, and QRISs in 2017 to conduct a descriptive analysis of policy integration. Our findings indicate that the majority of QRISs mention curricula in both their infant-toddler and preschool scales, but only 10 states listed specific curricular packages. The most popular curricula named in both QRIS levels were HighScope and Creative Curriculum, aligning with prior research on curricula use in center-based ECE. Early learning standards in QRISs tell a similar story; only 11 state QRISs at the infant-toddler level and 13 at the preschool level include alignment with state early learning guidelines in their rating scales. Follow-up analyses will examine the lead agencies responsible for QRIS to assess the extent to which ECE systems are dispersed amongst multiple agencies. (with A. Auger Whitaker and J. Duer).

    Response to Intervention and Child Outcomes: Examining Children’s Disability, Cognitive, and Socioemotional Development Using Longitudinal Data

    This study examines the relation between school-level Response to Intervention (RTI) introduction and children’s disability status, cognitive development, and socioemotional development from kindergarten through fourth grade using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort 2011. Using child fixed effects analyses, our findings indicate that children who attended an elementary school that had introduced RTI are three percentage points less likely to be identified with a disability by the end of fourth grade compared with children attending schools that did not introduce RTI. We find heterogeneity in this association with respect to children’s disability status; RTI improves the interpersonal skills of children with disabilities but does not affect the outcomes of typically developing children. (with Z. Shea).

  • Current Projects

    In progress

    Consequences of early learning program sequences: Evidence from Baltimore City

    Using a new integrated administrative dataset, this analysis examines the kindergarten readiness and performance of 998 Baltimore children who enrolled in Head Start at age three and entered kindergarten in 2014. Using matching models to adjust for the birth characteristics of children, the results show that children who transition to public pre-kindergarten at age four are more likely to be ready for kindergarten as measured state-wide assessments, and that both groups of children had similar rates of chronic absence and grade repetition. Moreover, children who experienced either sequence fared dramatically better in all dimensions than 499 similar children who entered kindergarten having experienced neither program. The respective agencies coordinated their efforts in 2014 to increase the number of children who enroll in both programs, and in this respect Baltimore can serve as a national model. (with J. Grigg, D. McKinney, and F. Connolly).

    A Rising Tide that Lifted All Boats? The Effects of Competition on Early Childhood Education Quality ​

    This study provides a rich description of the relationship between competition and quality in the mixed-delivery ECE market. Using the North Carolina QRIS data in 2019, we examine the association between competition and the quality ratings as well as the detailed quality indicators used to determine the final quality rating (e.g., staff education, classroom interaction). The exploration of the detailed quality indicators provides hypothesis-generating evidence on the strategies programs might adopt in response to competition. (with Q. Zhang)

    The Long-Run Achievement Impacts of Early Head Start: Evidence from Program Roll-Out​

    Since its creation in 1995, Early Head Start (EHS) has provided comprehensive early intervention services to pregnant women and low-income families with infants and toddlers. Designed around developmental theories demonstrating the ability for early interventions to change later outcomes, EHS programs offer a wide range of early intervention services including home visits, child care, prenatal and parenting education, and health care. The federally-mandated Early Head Start Evaluation experiment revealed benefits for EHS child participants including higher cognitive and language development, higher emotional engagement with parents, and fewer aggressive behaviors relative to non-participants (Love et al., 2005). Follow-up analyses conducted when EHS Evaluation participants reached fifth grade found no effects on study outcomes including in cognitive and socio-emotional domains (Vogel et al., 2010). Our findings indicate access to EHS grantees leads to a significantly lower score on math and ELA achievement tests in third grade but not statistical difference by eighth grade. (with J. Duer)

    Shovel ready? Understanding how collaboration with Head Start affected the success of North Carolina’s More at Four program

    Over the past quarter-century, publicly-funded ECE programs have rapidly expanded—in particular, state pre-kindergarten (pre-k) programs for 4-year-olds. Yet few studies have examined the dynamic between different public ECE programs—especially for the two largest, Head Start (HS) and pre-k—and how it may affect child development. Given HS’s quality standards, historical integration in communities, and the comprehensive services offered beyond that of pre-k, strong potential exists for synergies between HS and pre-k to benefit families and children. We examine the HS context of North Carolina’s (NC) More at Four (MAF) pre-k program to understand how HS both played a role in, and was affected by, MAF implementation. We build upon the MAF evaluation work of Dodge, Ladd, and Muschkin (2017; 2014; 2015), combining their linked birth-to-school records-level data (1988-2015) that include county-level MAF funding (the quasi-experimental variation used to estimate impacts) with annual county-level data from the HS Program Information Report. Our primary research question is “Was MAF differentially effective in counties with greater HS enrollment?” We hypothesize that counties with greater proportions of 4-year-olds enrolled in HS had a stronger foundation of high-quality ECE to implement MAF. HS programs were operating in half of all NC counties during the study period. Our study’s findings will inform analyses of collaboration and heterogeneity in other state pre-k evaluation efforts, and in our broader understanding of the shifting landscape of HS. (with T. Watts, J. Duer, K. Dodge, & R. Carr)

  • Contact Information



    Office: 949-824-7987

    Cell: 352-514-1092

    Fax: 949-824-2965


    2052 Education

    University of California, Irvine

    Irvine, CA 92697-5500