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Maia Connors

 Research Associate Professor and Executive Director of the Early Childhood Research Alliance of Chicago (EC-REACH)

Research Associate Professor and Executive Director of the Early Childhood Research Alliance of Chicago (EC-REACH)

PhD, Applied Psychology, New York University


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Maia Connors is a research associate professor at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University and the inaugural executive director of the Early Childhood Research Alliance of Chicago (EC-REACH). Previously, she was director of Research & Policy Initiatives at Start Early. As an applied psychologist, her research draws on interdisciplinary theory and rigorous quantitative methods to understand how policy works as an “intervention” to advance equity and improve quality within early childhood programs and systems. She has extensive experience at the federal, state, and local levels partnering with early childhood policymakers and practitioners to translate research findings into policy and practice. Her own research has explored sources of variation in the impacts of Head Start; identified promising policy levers for improving preschool quality at scale; and informed the decisions of city and state departments of education regarding early childhood quality, access, expansion, and improvement. A former toddler teacher, Connors holds an A.B. in Sociology and Education Studies from Brown University and a Ph.D. in Applied Psychology from New York University. 

Read more about the launch of EC-REACH here.

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Articles

Feller, A., M.C. Connors,  C. Weiland, J.Q. Easton, S.B. Ehrlich, J. Francis, S. Kabourek, D. Leyva, A. Shapiro, G. Yeomans-Maldonado. Forthcoming. Addressing Missing Data Due to COVID-19: Two Early Childhood Case Studies. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness.

Jenkins, J. M., J.K. Duer, and M.C. Connors. 2021. Who participates in quality rating and improvement systems? Early Childhood Research Quarterly54, 219-227.

Connors, M.C. 2019. Pathways to quality: From internal program supports to early educators’ practice. Early Education & Development, 30(5), 569-589.

Morris, P.A., M.C. Connors,  A.H. Friedman-Krauss, D.C. McCoy, C. Weiland, A. Feller, L. Page, H. Bloom, & H. Yoshikawa. 2018. New findings on impact variation from the Head Start Impact Study: Informing the scale-up of early childhood programs. AERA Open, 4(2), 1-16.

Connors, M.C. & A.H. Friedman-Krauss. 2017. Varying states of Head Start: Impacts of a federal program across state policy contexts. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 10(4), 675-703.

Connors, M.C. 2016. Creating cultures of learning: A theoretical model of effective early care and education policy. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 36, 32-45.

Connors, M.C. & P.A. Morris. 2015. Comparing state policy approaches to early care and education quality: A multidimensional assessment of quality rating and improvement systems and child care licensing regulations. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 30, 266-279.

Reports, Book Chapters, & Edited Volumes

Connors, M.C., S.B. Ehrlich, A.G. Stein, J. Francis,  J.Q. Easton, & S.E. Kabourek. 2021. A Path to Equity: From expanded pre-k access to success in elementary school. Chicago, IL: NORC at the University of Chicago, Start Early, & UChicago Consortium on School Research.

Kabourek, S.E., S.B. Ehrlich, J. Francis, M.C. Connors, A.G. Stein,& J.Q. Easton. 2021. What happens to community-based preschool during school-based pre-k expansion? A look at enrollment patterns. Chicago, IL: NORC at the University of Chicago & Start Early.

Connors, M.C., J.L. Vergara, & I.C. Farrar. 2021. ChicagoEarly Childhood Research Consortium Exploratory Report. Chicago, IL: Start Early.

Connors, M.C., D. Pacchiano,A. Stein, & M. Swartz. 2021. Building Capacity for Research and Practice: A Partnership Approach. Future of Children, 31(1), 119-135. 

Ehrlich, S.B., M.C. Connors, A.G. Stein, J. Francis, J.Q. Easton, S.E. Kabourek, & I.C. Farrar. 2020. Closer to home: More equitable pre-K access and enrollment in Chicago (Research Snapshot & FullReport). Chicago, IL: UChicago Consortium on School Research, NORC at the University of Chicago, & Start Early.

Easton, J.Q., J. Francis, I.C. Farrar, A.G. Stein, M.C. Connors, S.B. Ehrlich, & S.E. Kabourek (2020). A new method for describing Chicago neighborhoods. Chicago, IL: Start Early & NORC at the University of Chicago.

Morris, P.A. & M.C. Connors. 2017. Chapter Five: From the lab to the contexts in which young children live and grow: Historical perspectives on the field. In E. Dearing & E. Votruba-Drzal (Eds.), The Wiley handbook of early childhood development programs, practices, and policies. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Lombardi, J., J.F. Harding, M.C. Connors, & A.H. Friedman-Krauss. 2016. Prologue: Coming of Age: A Review of Federal Early Childhood Policy 2000-2015. In H. Dichter (Ed.), Rising to the challenge: Building effective systems for young children and their families, a BUILD E-Book.BUILD Initiative.