Evaluation of the Scottish Office's pound;24 million investment in early intervention will include a national sample of primary 1 and primary 2 children to see how effective the extra help is with reading, writing and numeracy.
A two-year contract worth pound;110,000 has been awarded to Moray House Institute and business consultants from KPMG to identify "good practice".
All councils have received a share of Government money and have devised their own approaches. They are able to employ nursery nurses, class teachers, learning support staff and classroom assistants.
Helen Fraser, senior lecturer in early education at Moray House, said: "Each local authority is doing different things. We will be asking them how they view their progress." Councils were evaluating their own schemes and that would contribute to building a national picture," Ms Fraser said.
There will be three strands to the research, which Ms Fraser hopes will eventually be funded for a third year. It will assess value for money. That will entail studying the attainment of pupils and the progress they make through having extra help. Finally, the perceptions of participants will be gauged, ranging from the Scottish Office to local authorities, heads and other teachers and, where possible, parents.
Brian Wilson, Education Minister, said: "This project underscores the Government's continuing commitment to raising standards. Together with our existing research programme, it means that the Scottish Office continues to invest more than pound;1 million each year in directly commissioned research."