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

NIEER Weekly

Volume 16, Issue 26

June 30, 2017

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Qualifications Controversy, IJCCEP and ICYMI conference resources

Hot Topics

Degrees of Separation

A report released this week argues that early educators need specialized knowledge but not a bachelor’s degree, reviving debate over the value of requiring the same credentials for teachers in preschool classrooms as in K-12.

The move toward requiring bachelor’s degrees was bolstered by the 2015 Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation report, which called for transitioning to a minimum bachelor’s degree qualification requirement, with specialized knowledge and competencies, for lead educators of children birth through age 8.

In recent years, public programs have made progress in raising the qualifications required to teach young children (see new Head Start regulationsThe State of Preschool 2016, and new Washington DC standards for child care providers).

Yet Re-thinking Credential Requirements in Early Education: Equity-based Strategies for Professionalizing a Vulnerable Workforce argues “there are good reasons to push back on degree requirements for jobs that provide little financial security or economic mobility.” Indeed, preschool teachers earn far less than other teachers, on average (See NIEER’s study of workforce parity).

The report concludes apprenticeships provide a better alternative to a college degree. “The apprenticeship strategy professionalizes workers while and where they work, rather than forcing them to find non-work time to attend college.”

One might better conclude that there are good reasons to push back on jobs that provide little financial security or economic mobility regardless of their educational requirements, particularly when this is demonstrably not good for either children or the adults who serve them. No apprenticeship could possibly “professionalize” workers without better pay and working conditions and opportunities for advancement beyond the current workplace.

This report’s recommendations stand in stark contrast to those that emerge from the recently published rigorous Campbell Collaboration review, The relationship between teacher qualification and the quality of the early childhood care and learning environment. This meta-analysis drawing on a wide range of literature from 1980 forward found “significant association” between having lead teachers with higher qualifications and the overall structural and process quality within ECEC settings.

“Quality is closely linked to the level of staff qualification, which may indicate that it is important to have teachers with qualification higher than secondary education working with young children,” the report states. “The professionalization of the early childhood sector through more qualified staff may lead to significant gains for children and their families, contributing towards life-long outcomes that will benefit all of society.”

As research from NIEER and the Center for the Study of Childcare Employment shows, some policies have been successful at professionalizing the field.

To cite an example close to home, New Jersey’s response to court-ordered education reform transformed the system of early care and education serving 3- and 4-year-olds in 31 low-income communities–beginning with the teachers who were given the opportunity to go to college and obtain degrees with a specialization in early childhood.

The result not only moved entire systems from poor-mediocre to good-excellent quality but changed the lives of the teachers as well, professionalizing both the jobs and the workforce.

Related research:
Strengthening Standards for NJ Early Childhood Teachers (2015)

Providing Tools Towards Quality: The Status of P-3 Teacher Preparation Programs in New Jersey (2010)

Partnering for Preschool A Study of Center Directors in New Jersey’s Mixed-Delivery Abbott Program (2008)

Reconstructing Teacher Education to Prepare Qualified Preschool Teachers: Lessons from New Jersey (2005)

Getting Qualified: A report on the efforts of preschool teachers in New Jersey’s Abbott Districts to improve their qualifications (2004)

We invite you to follow NIEER on Twitter 
@PreschoolToday and Facebook at Preschool Today. Please share your social media handles so we can connect.

New on Preschool Matters Today! Blog

Tips for Building ECE into ESSA School Improvement Plans

Latest in the blog series from the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELOand New America on early learning opportunities and challenges under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). 

State education agencies looking to improve long-term student outcomes, accelerate educational progress, and close achievement gaps cannot afford to start their efforts at third grade, when most state tests begin. Without consideration of the developmentally critical early years, a school accountability system reflects a limited view of educational quality. In addition, early skills are predictive of later outcomes, but too often early opportunity gaps are allowed to grow unaddressed into more persistent achievement gaps in later years. The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) presents an opportunity for states to integrate early childhood into school improvement plans.

NIEER Activities

International Journal of Child Care and Education Policy 

The National Institute of Early Education Research is proud to partner with the Korean Institute of Child Care and Education (KICCE) to publish the International Journal of Child Care and Education Policy, an open access, peer-reviewed international journal.

IJCCEP publishes original and review papers, technical reports, case studies, conference reports and government reports, including thematic series. Read recent journal articles.

IJCCEP accepts submissions online on a rolling basis in areas including:

  • Assessment & evaluation
  • Workforce qualifications
  • Regulations and standards
  • Financing services
  • Family engagement
  • Quality
  • Integrating education and care
  • Diversity and social inclusion
  • International policy comparisons

CEELO Update

Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes experts recently shared presentations at the NAEYC Professional Learning Institute. Below please find descriptions and links to presentations recently added to the CEELO website.

Leading for Equity: Ensuring a Competent Workforce that Supports All Children

CEELO Co-Project Director Jana Martella discusses the policies needed to lead and drive state efforts to improve workforce and teaching quality with an equity lens. Presented with BUILD’s Kate Tarrant, Debi Mathias, and Aisha Ray at the NAEYC Professional Learning Institute (June 2017).

Moving Family Engagement into Action: Promising Practices to Support Implementation in Early Learning Settings

CEELO Research Associate Melissa Dahlin identifies ways to address common barriers in implementing family engagement in programs. Participants engaged in a demonstration of the Maryland Family Engagement Toolkit, which offers accessible and field-tested practices that can be used in any type of early learning setting.  Presented with Sue Mitchell (PDG TA) and Cynthia Lessner (Maryland State Department of Education June 11th, 2017 at the NAEYC Professional Learning Institute (June 2017).


Centers Serving High Percentages of Young Hispanic Children Compare Favorably to Other Centers on Key Predictors of Quality 

The National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families this week shared research showing high Hispanic-serving centers are doing as well and even outpacing low Hispanic-serving centers in terms of staff coaching and mentoring experiences and program report of curriculum use. Additionally, children and families who enroll in high Hispanic-serving centers are more likely to have access to health screenings and other family support services.  
Nationally, more than 1 in 5 (22 percent) of all ECE centers serve high proportions of Hispanic children, the report states, and a close examination suggests a possible bifurcation in our nation’s ECE centers with most low Hispanic-serving centers actually serving no or few Hispanic children, while Hispanic children make up a majority in many high Hispanic-serving centers.  
We need to better understand how geography and region of the country may be a part of this picture,” the report states. “The Hispanic population is highly concentrated in urban centers and specific states have significant representation of Hispanic families in their population. Still, as the Hispanic population continues to grow and become less geographically concentrated it will be important to track and monitor to ensure that racial/ethnic segregation does not take hold.”  

Absenteeism in Head Start and Children’s Academic Learning

This study published in Child Development examined the implications of 3- and 4-year-old’s absences from Head Start for their early academic learning. This national analysis found that 12 percent of children in Head Start programs are chronically absent and that children who miss 10 percent or more of the school year have fewer gains in academics, specifically math and literacy, than their peers who attend the same Head Start more regularly. Moreover, excessive absenteeism was found to detract from the potential benefits of quality preschool education and was especially problematic for the early learning of children who entered the Head Start program with a less developed skill set.

The Critical Importance of Costs for Education Decisions

The National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance this week published a new brief explaining how cost analyses can inform decision making in education and what resources exist to help calculate the costs of education programs (For preschool costs, see the Cost of Preschool Quality calculator).

Authors Fiona Hollands and Henry Levin of the Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education discuss purposes, advantages, disadvantages, and possible applications for four types of cost analyses. They address:
(1) why cost information matters in education
(2) what cost metrics are available to inform decision making
(3) how cost analyses can inform decision making
(4) what resources exist to help calculate the costs of education programs; and
(5) what types and uses of cost analysis are available for decision making.

 Understanding and Maximizing Federally Required Needs Assessments

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) this week shared a new guide, Understanding and Maximizing Federally Required Needs Assessments, to assist in designing and promoting a comprehensive needs assessment process. It includes ideas for consolidating needs assessment activities with the goal of allocating resources more effectively and equitably. Additionally, this resource includes a summary of the federal requirements for needs assessments highlighting provisions where using a needs assessment is implicit.

A separate resource, Using Needs Assessments to Drive School and District Improvement, released earlier this month, is a tactical guide produced by CCSSO and the Center on School Turnaround describing the core components for developing and administering needs assessments for improvement. Click here to download worksheets that will aid in designing and developing needs assessments.

Do the ratings in Oregon’s quality rating and improvement system correlate with observed program quality?

The study described in this report is the first of two studies on the validity of Oregon’s QRIS. This study uses a measure of the observed quality of adult-child interactions as a benchmark against which to compare QRIS ratings.

The research questions 1. What is the quality of programs in the QRIS Validation Study, as indicated by CLASS scores and QRIS ratings? 2. How highly correlated are the QRIS domains and standards with one another? 3. How well do programs’ QRIS ratings differentiate observed quality of adult-child interactions? 4. How do certain QRIS standards & indicators of interest relate to observed quality? 5. How well are other personnel measures associated with observed quality and final QRIS ratings?

Workforce of Today, Workforce of Tomorrow: The Business Case for High-Quality Childcare

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Center for Education and Workforce recently released a report exploring the role of high-quality childcare in the education and workforce pipeline.

By laying the crucial groundwork for tomorrow’s workforce and promoting a strong workforce today, high-quality childcare provides a powerful two-generation approach to building the human capital that a prosperous and sustainable America requires, according to the Chamber. The report outlines 10 things the business community can do to advance access to high-quality childcare.

Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states have been given a unique and important opportunity to shape and customize a plan that advances educational opportunities in bold and innovative ways for all students.

The Collaborative for Student Success, in partnership with Bellwether Education Partners, this week released an analysis by leading education experts, identifying best practices in the 17 state accountability plans that were submitted in April and May 2017 to the U.S. Department of Education.

Findings of the review can be found on the Collaborative for Student Success’ new site,, which provides in-depth information on how these plans advance educational opportunities in bold and innovative ways for all students, and where some fall short.


OPRE Grant Announcement

The Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) in the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has recently published a discretionary research funding announcements titled “Family Strengthening Scholars.” If you have questions regarding this grant announcement, please email the OPRE grant review team at or call 1-877-350-5913.

The full announcement for “Family Strengthening Scholars” is available online.

OPRE intends to award up to three grants to support dissertation research on healthy marriage policy issues. These grants are meant to build capacity in the research field to focus on questions that have direct implications for the healthy marriage field, and to foster mentoring relationships between faculty members and high-quality doctoral students. These grants are intended to address issues of significance to inform policy decisions and solutions, particularly for underserved/understudied populations (e.g., low-income families, minority populations), use rigorous research methodology (both primary data collection and secondary data analysis), and help inform the development of future intervention research.

Applicants may apply for project periods up to 24 months with two 12-month budget periods. Up to $25,000 may be awarded for each budget period. Letters of intent are due by June 26, 2017 and applications are due by July 14, 2017. 


The Impact of Early Childhood Education on Health and Well-Being: The Latest Research from Policies for Action

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
3:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Urban Institute
5th Floor
2100 M Street NW
Washington, DC 20037

The Urban Institute, in collaboration with Policies for Action (P4A), a signature research program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, invites you to a forum to share P4A’s latest findings on early education’s lasting impacts on health and well-being and learn from policymakers designing and implementing programs at the city and state levels.

Early Education Roundup

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

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