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

NIEER Weekly

Volume 16, Issue 32

August 17, 2017

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Dual Language Opinions, Just the Fact Sheets, and Civic Participation

Hot Topics

Attitudes, Evidence on Teaching DLLs 

A national poll released this week on education policy and reform offers insight into questions of how a more divisive political climate has influenced public opinion on education and how much President Trump may have swayed the public’s views.

The 2017 EdNext Poll on School Reform survey, conducted in May and June of this year compares current attitudes toward major issues in K–12 education with those of prior years based on a sample of more than 4,200 respondents, including oversamples of parents and teachers.

National debate over immigration policy has touched many aspects of public policy, including education. The survey asked questions about visa programs for highly specialized workers, federal aid to school districts impacted by immigration, and an issue that has been the focus of NIEER research, the language of instruction for students with limited English proficiency.

Although the Education Next report discusses their findings in terms of support for teaching children in “English only,” the actual question asked respondents to choose between placing immigrant children or children with a home language other than English initially in either “English-speaking” classrooms or classrooms in their primary language. (See NIEER Policy Brief – Preparing Young Hispanic Dual Language Learners for a Knowledge Economy)

The vast majority responded, “English-speaking.” Whether they meant by this English-only is not entirely clear. Even more unfortunately, the survey did not offer respondents a choice of the answer research would indicate to be correct: two-way or dual-language immersion programs. Such programs do place children in “English-speaking” classrooms—just not English-only classrooms. (See NIEER Special Report on Dual Language Learners and Preschool Workforce)

A rigorous new study conducted in Portland adds to the evidence that dual-language immersion is highly effective. Intent-to-treat estimates (which can be considered downward biased) indicate improved reading in English, improved long-term exit rates from EL status, and no apparent detriment to mathematics and science skills—all while promoting proficiency in two languages. Alternative estimates were even more positive across all subject matter assessments. Expanding access to well-implemented Dual-Language Immersion Programs from early childhood could become the next frontier in the effort to increase educational excellence for all students in 21st-century America, the study noted.

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New on Preschool Matters Today! Blog 

Being the Change

Nationwide, in states, professionally, and personally, 2017 has been a nonstop barrage of changes—leading both myself and other early learning colleagues to ask how we can be active agents shaping change rather than passive receivers enduring it.

CEELO Update   

CEELO this week shared Early Learning in the United States: 2017 featuring fact sheets that provide an in-depth look at both the need for and the current state of early learning programs in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.


Childhood Skill Development and Adult Political Participation

This American Political Science Review study uses a school-based 20-year field experiment to explore whether children who develop psychosocial skills early are more likely to vote in adulthood than those who do not. Matching subjects to voter files, findings provided evidence that childhood programs targeting psychosocial or noncognitive abilities—the individual skills involving self-regulation and sociability not captured by cognitive ability—have a substantively meaningful effect on adult voter turnout and suggest the specific childhood programs that schools implement—including those targeting individual psychosocial skills—impact civic participation many years later.

Research-Practice Partnerships: Building Two-Way Streets of Engagement

This recent Society for Research in Child Development paper focuses on the ways partnerships challenge researchers and practitioners to work together in new ways in order to improve education and human services, and ultimately to enhance child and youth outcomes. Discussion covers various types of partnerships, strategies and conditions for success, and exemplar models.

Seeing Clearly

Data policies on EL outcomes are often complexly designed and generate information that is frequently misinterpreted. As a result, many states’ and districts’ vision of what constitutes excellence for ELs is blurry at best. When exemplars are hard to see, it is hard to learn from and replicate their successes. This report from New America offers a framework of five corrective lenses that are critical for seeing this population accurately.

Emphasizing Social Justice and Equity in Leadership for Early Childhood: Taking a Postmodern Turn to Make Complexity Visible

A new book published by WestEd’s Center for Child & Family Studies explores the social justice and equity challenges facing children around the world, shares frameworks and strategies for enacting leadership and highlights voices and experiences of early childhood professionals working in different roles and contexts.

An Exploration of Instructional Practices that Foster Language Development and Comprehension: Evidence from Prekindergarten through Grade 3 in Title I Schools

A new IES publication from the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance seeks to identify practices beyond evidence-based instruction that can improve student outcomes in large-scale reading programs. The evaluation brief analyzes practices related to young students’ growth in language skills and comprehension in listening and reading based on student test scores and observations of instructional practices in 1,035 classrooms in prekindergarten through grade 3 within 83 Title I schools during the 2011–2012 school year. Practices measured include engaging students in defining new words, making connections between students’ prior knowledge and the texts they read, promoting higher-order thinking, and focusing instruction on the meaning of texts.

What Works for Third Grade Reading

What Works for Third Grade Reading is a collection of 12 working papers addressing whole-child, birth-to-age-eight factors that support children’s optimal development and offering research-based policy, practice and program options to states and communities working to improve third grade reading proficiency. Created by the Institute for Child Success and the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation, in collaboration with BEST NC, the working papers address 12 of the North Carolina Pathways to Grade-Level Reading Initiative’s Measures of Success.


Education Program Officer, Early Education, Heising-Simons Foundation  

The Heising-Simons Foundation is seeking an Education Program Officer who will manage the Foundation’s Early Education (ages birth to eight years) grantmaking. The Education Program Officer reports to the Education Program Director and identifies and works with prospective and existing grantees, monitors grantee progress, and explores new grantmaking areas. Interested and qualified candidates are encouraged to apply by sending a cover letter, resume and salary information by email to


The Best Start in Life: Early Childhood Development for Sustainable Development  

SDG Academy Online course
Sept. 25-Nov. 27, 2017
Course Authors:
Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Jack Shonkoff, Aisha Yousafzai, and Catherine Tamis-LeMonda  

This course is structured around a series of pre-recorded lectures, readings, quizzes, discussion forums, and other activities drawing from research in neuroscience, psychology, economics, anthropology and program implementation and evaluation to discuss Early Childhood Development and explore its role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Click here for details

Early Education News Roundup 

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


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