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NIEER's weekly newsletter for the latest in early education news

NIEER Weekly

Volume 16, Issue 12

March 24, 2017

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: More evidence quality counts, See you at SRCD and Iowa calls

Hot Topics

Educare: New Research on Impacts

As local, state, and national policy discussions are conducted regarding public investments in child care, it is important that quality be front and center. Educare provides one of the strongest examples of quality early care and education today. That makes Child and Parenting Outcomes After 1 Year of Educare, recently published in the journal of the Society for Research in Child Development particularly noteworthy. This research adds to evidence that high quality early care and education can make substantive contributions to learning and development, especially for low-income children.

Educare operates 21 full-day, year-round programs across the US, providing high-quality early education to children birth to five living in low-income households. Practices are innovative and standards are high—exceeding most public program requirements—on key components such as teacher qualifications and class size, with per-child costs reflecting the price of high quality. Across the five schools in this study, annual costs per child and family averaged $18,268. Early Head Start and other public funds with supplements from private philanthropy cover the costs of high quality in Educare.

Five well-established Educare schools participated in this study, in Chicago, Milwaukee, Omaha (two schools), and Tulsa. Children were randomly assigned to Educare or a “business-as-usual” control group. At age two after one year in the program, those receiving Educare were found to have benefited in terms of “auditory and expressive language skills, parent-reported problem behaviors, and positive parent–child interactions.” As Educare is designed to deliver up to five years of education and care before kindergarten entry we eagerly await future evidence regarding the impacts of more extended participation.

The study authors note that “although Educare has been criticized as being not sustainable because of its high per child expenses … it may be that Educare’s cost matches the level of investment needed for children from low-income families to perform at the same levels as their more advantaged peers.”

“Given the persistence of the achievement gap and its multiple negative consequences, it seems overly optimistic to expect an easy or inexpensive solution,” the report notes. “In fact, the return on investment of early intervention programs reviewed for this study strongly suggest that early investments payoff in later social savings.”

NIEER Activities

Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD)

Several NIEER research professors will be presenting during the SRCD 2017 Biennial Meeting next month in Austin, TX. Presentations include empirical, theoretical, historical, methodological, policy, application, and translational submissions from investigators around the globe in all disciplines related to the field of child development. This year meeting’s theme is Developmental Science and Society.

NIEER scholars will participate in the panel “New Results From State-Funded Preschool in Four States: How Do Effects on Children Vary by Family Income and Home Language.”  NIEER Director Steven Barnett, Ph.D. will present “Rhode Island Prekindergarten Demonstration Project Results From a Stratified Randomized Trial.” NIEER Co-Director for Research Milagros Nores, Ph.D. will present “An Impact Evaluation of West Virginia Universal Pre-K.” Associate Director for Data Management and Statistics Kwanghee Jung, Ph.D, will present “Effects of the Arkansas Better Chance Preschool Program by Family Income.” The panel will be held Thursday, April 6, 2-3:30 pm Austin Convention Center Meeting Room 7.

Dr. Barnett also will present “Complex Relations Between Structural Teacher and Classroom Characteristics and Associations with Preschool Classroom Quality” on April 6, 4-5:30 pm, Austin Convention Center Meeting Room 17B.  And on Saturday, April 8, Dr. Barnett will present “Dollars and Sense: Trends, Tools, and Studies of Early Childhood Program Costs and Quality to Guide Policy and Decision Making” from 2:30-4 p.m., Austin Convention Center Meeting Room 9B.

Dr. Nores will also present “Impact Evaluation of the the AeioTu Program in Colombia among Low-Income Children” on an international panel. April 7 12:15pm to 1:45pm, Hilton Austin, Meeting Room 410.

Assistant Research Professor Allison Friedman-Krauss, Ph.D. will present “Unique Patterns of Process and Structural Quality as Predictors of Children’s Pre-Academics Skills During one Year of Preschool” April 8 10:30 am to Noon Austin Convention Center Meeting Room 18D.

Assistant Research Professor Jessica Francis, Ph.D. will present “New Jersey’s Preschool Expansion Districts: Progress and Evaluation Results After One Year” April 7 12:15-1:45 pm Austin Convention Center Meeting Room 9C.

Full NIEER schedule

CEELO Update

A New Vision for Professional Learning: A Toolkit to Help States Use ESSA to Advance Learning and Improvement Systems 

CEELO this week shared a toolkit published by Learning Forward and EducationCounsel to help state education leaders and ESSA decision makers recognize how professional development affects equity and excellence and make the most of opportunities in ESSA for professional learning.

“Advancing the twin goals of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)—equity and excellence—will require as much attention to teaching and leadership as to accountability, standards, and assessment,” the guide states. “Research shows that no in-school factors matter more than teaching and leadership, and educators, like students, need continual opportunities to gain new knowledge and skills to enable all students to reach higher career and college-ready standards.”


Measures Used in Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) Validation Studies 

As investments in the development or revision of state and local Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) for early care and education have increased in recent years due to federal policy, a recently published research brief from Child Trends provides an overview of measures researchers are currently using or plan to use in a QRIS validation study.

The research brief provides an overview of methods, measures, and analytic strategies being used in QRIS validation studies by summarizing the measures researchers are using or plan to use.

“As new validation studies are launched, it will be important to catalog the selection of measures and identify any new trends, particularly in the selection of child assessment measures,” the brief concludes. “And, when results of current validation studies begin to be published, it will be important to conduct a similar scan across studies to identify patterns in the results. This synthesis of results will inform not only decisions about future research but also decisions about QRIS design and implementation.”

Defining and Measuring Access to High-Quality Early Care and Education (ECE): A Guidebook for Policymakers and Researchers

Establishing a common understanding of ECE access, and how to measure it across different types of early learning settings, is essential for state and local policymakers responsible for improving access. The ECE Access Guidebook was developed to address the need for developing a common understanding and approach to measuring access.

Ultimately, this Guidebook is intended to support states’ efforts to assess the reach and effectiveness of their policy initiatives aimed at expanding ECE access.The Guidebook provides information in four sections: Clarifying and Defining Access, Describing the Indicators of Access, Measuring the Indicators of Access, and Identifying ECE Access Datasets and Sources.

Defining and Measuring Access to High-Quality Early Care and Education (ECE): A Guidebook for Policymakers and Researchers was produced through the Child Care and Early Education Research and Policy Analysis (CCEEPRA) project funded by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) in the Administration for Children and Families in the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Food insecurity in early childhood linked to young children’s skills in kindergarten

In the United States, estimates show that a substantial number of children under age 5 live in households that are food insecure. A new study from researchers at Georgetown University and the University of Virginia published in the journal Child Development, has found that children who experience food insecurity in early childhood are more likely to start kindergarten less ready to learn than their peers from homes that are food secure.

“Timing of food insecurity matters,” notes Anna Johnson, assistant professor of psychology at Georgetown University, who led the research. “In our study, food insecurity in infancy and toddlerhood predicted lower cognitive and social-emotional skills in kindergarten, skills that can predict later success in academics and life.” Food insecurity during the preschool years was less consistently related to performance in kindergarten, Johnston adds, but when it was, associations were also negative.

The 2017 Brown Center Report on American Education: How Well are American Students Learning?

This is the sixth and final edition in a series began in 2000. The report comprises three studies: the first section features recent results from state, national, or international assessments; the second investigates a thematic topic in education, either by collecting new data or by analyzing existing empirical evidence in a novel way; and the third section looks at one or more education policies.

Part III examines race and school discipline. Exclusionary punishments, those that remove students from schools, have come under fire in recent years…. Disciplinary reformers have promoted restorative programs as alternatives to exclusionary punishment, but the approaches are controversial and the empirical evidence of their impact is limited. The current study cannot draw causal conclusions, but altering the structural characteristics of schools associated with higher suspension rates should be considered in future reform efforts.



NIEER is seeking a Research Professor/Co-Director to assume major leadership responsibilities for the development and management of research, development of assessments including assessments of practice, and the provision of professional development and technical assistance relating to systems design and large-scale implementation of early learning initiatives.

To apply, please use this link provided by Rutgers University. Applicants are expected to provide a cover letter, CV, and three letters of recommendation.

Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children

The Iowa AEYC is seeking an experienced, results-oriented Executive Director to lead the nonprofit organization in its mission to promote high-quality early learning for all children, birth through age 8, by connecting practice, policy, and research.

Reporting to a Board of Directors, the Executive Director executes the organization’s vision, provides leadership to the organization, assures its overall program effectiveness, ensures the acquisition of sufficient resources, protects and projects a positive statewide and national public presence, understands the political environment, and has an extensive knowledge of early childhood education and advocacy best practices. For more information as well as application procedure, click here.

Early Education in the News

ICYMI: Read this week’s key stories on early childhood education issues.

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