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

NIEER Weekly

Volume 16, Issue 33

August 25, 2017

Highlighting the week's most interesting stories and studies: Life Lessons, PreK STEM and QRIS

Hot Topics

Life Lessons

Children—even very young ones—sense the tension and fear surrounding recent confrontations over racism and immigration yet often are unable to discuss their feelings. Resources published this week offer age-appropriate suggestions so adults can help them “understand, manage and process what they have seen and feel.”

Zero to Three released Racism and Violence: Using Your Power as a Parent to Support Children Aged Two to Five, offering guidelines for talking about complex issues of racism and equality in age-appropriate ways with children from 2-5 years old. Suggestions include limiting access to media discussions about frightening events, answering questions calmly using simple language to help them feel safe, and pointing out positive, caring members of your community.

The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) also shared several resources including SEL programs, videos, and articles to help promote respect and understanding, and create a safe, respectful learning environment for all children, “I’m more convinced than ever that social and emotional learning is part of the solution to bigotry and fear,” said Karen Niemi, CASEL’s president and CEO.

To guide educators seeking to help children affected by anti-immigrant rhetoric and arrests, the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) has published an eBook on Supporting Immigrant Students’ Rights to Attend Public Schools (in English and Spanish) and a one-page bilingual flier.

Research tells us that children learn what they are taught—whether lessons are intentional or not. As this new academic year begins—framed by white supremacist rallies and anti-immigrant rhetoric, we would do well to use all resources available to realize Nelson Mandela’s vision that “if (people) can learn to hate, they can be taught to love…”

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

New on Preschool Matters Today! Blog

In this “Back to School” blog, Bill Gates explores STEAM early learning opportunities, and how one teacher enables even Kindergarten students to engage in science and math activities.

“I want students to see many different futures” 

I envy people who are good at working with their hands. As much as I love computers, I never got into putting them together or taking them apart the way a lot of hobbyists do. Writing code was one thing—I had fun doing that—but soldering circuit boards was something else.

A lot of that was just my personal aptitude. But maybe things would have been different if I’d had a teacher like Camille Jones, the 2017 Teacher of the Year in my home state of Washington. Camille teaches STEAM—Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math—and as I saw when she stopped by my office earlier this year, she has a real gift for sparking your imagination with hands-on projects. Read more

NIEER researchers, including Dr. Alissa Lange now at East Tennessee State University, developed SciMath-DLL, a preschool professional development model integrating STEM instructional offerings with supports for dual language learners. NIEER Research Project Coordinator Hebbah El-Moslimany shared results from the design and development of this model during the American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual conference. See the presentation here. 

NIEER Policy Briefs Archives 

Early Childhood Education: Pathways to Better Health 

This policy report, released in April 2013, presents the multiple pathways through which early childhood education programs can contribute to better health.

“The potential health benefits of early childhood education programs are quite large, especially for children living in poverty. In this report, authors Allison Friedman-Krauss and Steve Barnett set out the evidence regarding the short and long term health benefits to children from early childhood education programs, identify the features of high-quality programs that can produce these benefits, and offer recommendations to improve the contributions of such programs to health.”

NIEER Activities

NIEER this week hosted trainers who will work with New Jersey school districts for training on implementing new state guidelines for kindergarten to third grade developed by NIEER Associate Research Professor Shannon Riley-Ayers, Rutgers University professor Sharon Ryan, and the NJDOE to help ensure developmentally appropriate and academically rigorous teaching in early elementary classrooms. 
NIEER will be running 13 cohorts across New Jersey for more than 250 teachers this year. Trainers include NIEER faculty, Rutgers Graduate School of Education faculty, a professor from Centenary University and a Newark, NJ charter school teacher who has graduated from the course.

CEELO Update

CEELO is pleased to share several new resources online: CEELO Update


Quality for Whom? Supporting Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Children and Workers in Early Childhood Quality Rating and Improvement Systems,

A new report from the Migration Policy Institute’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy examines how diverse providers access QRIS and processes built around them, and how to better serve immigrant and refugee families, and how the rollout of QRIS in different states has affected culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

The report offers state decision-makers a range of strategies that can be used to ensure QRIS are accessible and fair to all providers and more accurately capture and value program elements needed to effectively serve diverse children and families.

The Challenge of sustaining preschool impacts: Introducing ExCEL P-3, a study from the Expanding Children’s Early Learning Network

Child Care & Early Ed Research Connections this week shared a new brief introducing the ExCEL P-3 project, a study in partnership with the Boston Public Schools, the University of Michigan, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education to explore several leading approaches for sustaining children’s early preschool gains.

Spanish instruction in Head Start and dual language learners’ academic achievement

A new report published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, uses data from the Head Start Impact Study and the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey, 2009 Cohort (N = 825) to investigate whether Spanish instruction in Head Start differentially increased Spanish-speaking Dual Language Learners’ (DLLs) academic achievement.

An Unofficial Guide to the Why and How of State Early Childhood Data Systems

This new resource, the latest in The Ounce Policy Conversations series, provides practical advice on how to organize the work and how to overcome common roadblocks to developing better state data systems. The Guide explains why unified early childhood data systems are important, how to unify your early childhood data system, and how to build capacity to use data effectively and comply with data privacy requirements to help ensure states build and leverage a unified early childhood data system to improve outcomes.

Evaluation of Georgia’s Pre-K Program

This report, by the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill is part of a multi-year evaluation of Georgia’s Pre-K Program, indicates participation in the program positively impacts children’s academic development years later.

The state commissioned the multi-year, comprehensive evaluation in 2011 at the request of the Georgia General Assembly. The study began with a sample of 1,169 children who participated in Georgia’s Pre-K Program during the 2013-2014 school year and will follow them through third grade in 2017-2018.

Results indicate that children made significant gains from pre-K through first grade on most skills that were measured in English as well as the same skills when measured in Spanish for children who were Spanish-speaking dual language learners. Gains tended to be greater in pre-K and kindergarten than in first grade.

Georgia’s Pre-K program is available in all counties of the state and serves about 60 percent of Georgia’s 4-year-olds. See Georgia’s preschool profile from The State of Preschool 2016 for details.


University of Wisconsin-Madison 

Gulbrandsen Chair in Early Childhood Education
The Gulbrandsen Chair supports an internationally known scholar engaged in research, teaching, and service in Early Childhood Education (ECE). The scholar who takes this position will be a productive and internationally recognized researcher, will secure external funding to support research, and be an active contributor to discussions around equitable policy and pedagogy and/or prevention sciences in early childhood (birth to age eight). This is a School of Education-wide search; the successful candidate and the School of Education will determine an appropriate departmental home.

The Gulbrandsen Chair will: (a) play a central role in the development of the new early childhood research center housed within the Wisconsin Center for Education Research; (b) teach in the home department’s undergraduate and graduate programs; and (c) participate in service to the department, campus, and scholarly community more broadly. Anticipated start date August 2018. Click here for more information.


US Office of Head Start Upcoming Events 

Upcoming national events and webinars promoted by the Office of Head Start (OHS) for the months of September, October, and November 2017. They include events from the National Training and Technical Assistance (T/TA) Centers and other OHS partners. Click here for details. 

Early Education News Roundup 

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

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