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

NIEER Weekly

Volume 16, Issue 47

December 8, 2017

Highlighting the week's most interesting studies and stories: Real Value of BCA, CEELO at 5, SEL in ESSA

Hot Topics

Investing for the Future

A new study from the RAND Corporation provides an important reminder that even for highly effective programs patience is a virtue, as the “benefits of early childhood investments unfold over time and can take years or even decades to reach the point at which cumulative benefits exceed the up-front costs.”

Investing Early: Taking Stock of Outcomes and Economic Returns from Early Childhood Programs follows up RAND’s 2005 study on impact and economic returns of early childhood interventions, exploring a broader range of intervention models and providing an updated synthesis from rigorous evaluation research.

The new study focuses on evaluations of 115 programs serving children or parents of children from prenatal to age 5 and examining outcomes for more than 3,180 children in 11 domains including behavior and emotion, cognitive achievement, child health, developmental delay, crime, and educational attainment.

Across the programs RAND reviewed, 102 of them (89 percent) had a positive effect on at least one child outcome.

“Overall, we found that most early childhood programs improve one or more outcomes for children and that, where formal benefit–cost analyses (BCAs) have been performed, most programs largely pay for themselves through benefits to participants, government, and other members of society,” the report states.

The study found financial benefits could be attributed to improved outcomes for children, parents or both, with earnings usually the largest source. While public sector benefits did not always offset program costs, the study notes that with longer-term follow-up, programs may generate further benefits.

Benefit-cost analysis methods vary across studies, making precise apples-to-apples comparisons impossible and limiting the ability to identify programs with the largest “bang for the buck,” the study notes. Yet such evidence-based research is needed to enable policymakers to make cost-effective public investments.

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New on Preschool Matters Today! Blog

Determining Early Childhood Program Costs and Benefits

A new review from RAND providing research on the costs and benefits of programs to support early childhood development indicates there is vast room for improvement—not just in programs, but in the application of economic analysis to these programs. Too often, BCA becomes a tool for advocacy for existing programs rather than for understanding and developing better programs and policy.

Our recently published chapter in Future Directions for Early Childhood Policy finds that advocates often portray ECEC as a means to “decrease inequality and improve the life course for young children from disadvantaged backgrounds, mitigate the negative effects of early childhood adversities, meet obligations to address children’s rights, support women’s labor force participation and success, raise fertility rates, and generate high rates of economic return and development—an amazing array of benefits to expect from a single public investment.” All of these are laudable goals, but for these benefits to be realized even partially, ECEC policies must be designed and implemented specifically to attain each of these goals and this must be done in the context of a broader set of policies that also support these goals.

NIEER Activities

The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University—New Brunswick, seeks to hire data collectors for training and administering child and classroom assessment instruments in pre‐K classrooms for the months of February to June 2018.

To apply, please send a letter of interest, curriculum vita/resume, transcript (if currently a student), and the names of two references to NIEER Senior Research Project Coordinator Assistant Carol Contreras. Please include the phrase “Data Collector” and your current location in the subject line.

CEELO Update

One of 22 Comprehensive Centers funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) is celebrating five years of providing technical assistance and support to early education policymakers. Looking ahead to the next two years, CEELO is refining its work to achieve greater impact on key goals including:

  • Increasing the capacity of State Education Associations (SEAs) to lead sustained improvements in early learning policy, Birth-3rd Grade.
  • Increasing leadership and organizational capacity to implement effective programs and policy.
  • Increasing effective use of data to improve programs and instruction.
  • Increasing capacity to produce data on costs and financing to increase access and quality of early childhood programs.

These objectives are aligned with, and amplify, CEELO’s original vision and purpose. To accomplish this challenging work, CEELO will be deploying new materials, tools and projects that are focused and timely.

To learn more, please take a look at a recent webinar CEELO shared with state partners about next steps.


Visual Impairment in Preschool Children in the United States: Demographic and Geographic Variations From 2015 to 2060

A study recently published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology focuses on demographic and geographic variations of visual impairment (VI) in children ages 3-5 in the United States, providing both demographic and geographic variations for the year 2015 along with projections to 2060 based on census data.

Findings suggest the number of preschool children with visual impairment is likely to increase disproportionately among minority populations, and the study suggests vision screening may prevent a high proportion of preschool-aged children from experiencing impairment.

Reading Achievement of U.S. Fourth-Grade Students in an International Context

A new study from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) demonstrates how reading literacy of U.S. fourth-graders varies by student background characteristics and contextual factors, based on results from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2016.

State of the States’ Teacher Evaluation and Support Systems: A Perspective from Exemplary Teachers

This recently published Educational Testing Service report reflects recommendations from State Teachers of the Year and finalists across the country regarding teacher evaluation and professional support systems. Based on survey and focus group responses from 266 teachers, insights can inform the Pre-K–3rd grade professional development efforts and the development of continuous improvement efforts for the early childhood education workforce.

Advancing Human Assessment: The Methodological, Psychological and Policy Contributions of ETS

Educational Testing Service (ETS) the world’s largest private nonprofit educational testing and assessment organization, recently released an open access book on its methodological, psychological, and policy contributions, which provides key historical overviews on a variety of topics.

Several chapters address early education issues, such as outlining the ETS role in the National Center for Education Statistics’ (NCES’s) sequence of longitudinal studies; explaining ETS contributions to Educational Policy Research as well as research on Developmental Psychology.

The Early Childhood Family Engagement Framework Toolkit: Maryland’s Vision for Engaging Families with Young Children

The Toolkit is designed to support all early childhood educators and providers as they implement the goals of the Family Engagement Framework and is intended to help providers better recognize and meet the needs of families and support providers to increase the opportunities for family engagement in early childhood programs. The Toolkit was a collaborative effort among various programs across Maryland.

Social and Emotional Learning Interventions Under the Every Student Succeeds Act

This report discusses the opportunities for supporting SEL under ESSA, the standards of evidence under ESSA, and SEL interventions that meet the standards of evidence and might be eligible for federal funds through ESSA. Federal, state, and district education policymakers can use this report to identify relevant, evidence-based SEL interventions that meet their local needs.


Society for Research in Child Development

The SRCD is accepting letters of intent for two Fellowships Focusing on State Early Childhood Policy: The Post-doctoral State Policy Fellowship in Early Childhood, funded by the Heising-Simons Foundation; and the Pre-doctoral State Policy Fellowship in Early Learning, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The goal is to provide firsthand experience in state policymaking, program implementation, and evaluation, while also providing state executive branch agencies greater access to child development research expertise. Deadline to apply is December 22, 2017.


Early Years Conference 2018

January 25 – 27, 2018
The Hyatt Regency Vancouver
Vancouver, BC Canada

This conference focus is on early childhood development, early childhood intervention and family support. This conference will explore the complex factors impacting children’s development, recognizing the essential aspect of nurturing relationships within families and in our professional roles as the cornerstone of strengthening children’s resilience. The conference will highlight many of the considerations and practices in work with young children and their families, particularly as we adapt to our rapidly changing society. Register

Early Education News Roundup

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

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